Advocacy Update: Top Things to Know This Week

November 30, 2023

COP28 to host first Health Day and climate-health ministerial 

The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference convenes this week from November 30-December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). COP28 will host the first ever Health Day on December 3 and climate-health ministerial to help build consensus on priority actions for the health system’s response to climate change, with a formal declaration expected. Seventy organizations, including Global Health Council, have signed a suite of recommendations calling upon parties at COP28 to adopt ambitious outcomes that protect and promote the health of people and the planet. The policy recommendations can be found here.

Monica Bertagnolli confirmed as NIH Director

On November 7, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli was confirmed by the Senate by a 62-36 vote as Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s leading federal medical research agency, making her only the second woman to be confirmed as NIH Director.

FY24 House LHHS bill report notes large cuts to CDC and NIH and amendments prohibiting WHO funding

On November 3, the House Committee on Appropriations released the accompanying report to the fiscal year (FY) 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. The LHHS appropriations bill includes funding for U.S. global health programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and for global health research activities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—both of which face steep cuts in the House’s FY24 bill. For example, CDC’s Global Health Center received a 46 percent, or $322 million cut, from the FY23 enacted level, while the global HIV line at CDC was completely zeroed out. NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also received a 23 percent, or $1.5 billion cut, from the FY23 enacted level. The bill also includes harmful amendments prohibiting funding and voluntary contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO).

USAID humanitarian chief to step down in January

On November 27, Devex reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s head of the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), Sarah Charles, will step down in from her post in January. Charles has led the Bureau since January 2021.

President Biden signs stopgap spending bill to avert government shutdown

On November 16, President Joe Biden signed the stopgap spending bill into law, averting a shutdown ahead of the November 17 deadline. The measure, which passed both chambers with bipartisan support, will fund four federal agencies until January 19, 2024, and the rest until February 2, 2024, giving Congress more time to negotiate long-term spending bills. Both the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bills fall under the February deadline.

SIGHT Act Introduced in the House

On November 15, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (D-PA), Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the Supporting Innovative Global Health Technologies (SIGHT) Act of 2023. The bipartisan bill aims to empower USAID to boost its research and development capabilities for healthcare technologies in low- and middle-income countries abroad. Global Health Council endorses this legislation and applauds Representatives Fitzpatrick, Houlahan, and Salazar for their leadership in supporting R&D at USAID.

2024 House and Senate legislative calendars released

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has released the 2024 legislative schedule for 2024, which can be found here. The tentative 2024 Senate schedule can also be found here.