Advocacy Update ~ June 11, 2018

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager, and Melissa Chacko, Policy Associate.

White House Withdraws Ebola Rescission

Early last week, the White House made a number of modifications to its proposed rescission package, including a removal of the rescission of $252 million in remaining unobligated Ebola response funding. The modifications to the package were expected after pushback from a number of Congressional Republicans on several of the proposed rescissions, including the Ebola response funding.  Late last week, the House voted on it modified bill, H.R. 3. The Senate has until June 22 to act on the rescission package, but it remains unclear if it will act on it. (Read more about the rescission process.)

The timing of the withdrawal also comes shortly after the administration committed an additional $7 million to respond to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the additional funding during the World Health Assembly in Geneva in late May. Read the Global Health Security Roundtable’s statement on the funding commitment.

The White House is reportedly working on another rescission package targeting unobligated funding from Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The International Development Budget is expected to be a target and proposed rescissions will reflect the administration’s budget requests for FY2018 and FY2019.

FY19 Appropriations: Update on Bills and Pompeo Testifies on State Department Budget

Congress remains committed to completing the FY2019 appropriations process by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, with markups of the individual bills expected to begin this month. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) canceled three weeks of the Senate August recess, in order to work on nominations and appropriations. The House is still expected to take all of August off. Despite all of this, many Beltway-insiders still expect that a Continuing Resolution (CR) will be needed to keep the government open after September.

In late May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 State Department budget. Both hearings focused on a range of foreign policy issues including North Korea, Iran, and South Sudan, and on diplomatic security. There was little emphasis on global health issues. However, Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) were concerned by the President’s rescission package which includes a $252 million cut to remaining unobligated Ebola response funding from the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account at USAID (the White House has since withdrawn this rescission; see item above). In the Senate, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) pushed on the administration invoking the Kemp-Kasten amendment and the withholding of funds from UNFPA without any evidence, to which Secretary Pompeo responded that he would follow up on the question.