Advocacy Updates ~ August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

Administration News

State Department updates U.S. global response to COVID-19

On July 29, the State Department provided an update on the U.S. funding commitments  for the global response to COVID-19. The update highlights and breaks down the allocated $20.5 billion that has gone towards the international response.

Secretary Azar: Any vaccine would be shared once U.S. needs met

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, recently stated that any U.S. vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 would be shared fairly with the rest of the world, once U.S. needs are met.

Trump Administration collaborates with Moderna

On August 11, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) announced an agreement with Moderna, Inc. to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, collaborated with the DoD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense and Army Contracting Command to provide up to approximately $1.5 billion to manufacture and deliver the vaccine.

State Department releases review of expanded Mexico City Policy

On August 18, the U.S. State Department released its long overdue “Review of Implementation of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy” (also known as the expanded Mexico City Policy). The review provides the administration’s examination of both the implementation and effect of the policy on U.S. global health programs since its reinstatement, focusing particularly on the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The review includes several examples of disruptions, challenges finding suitable replacement organizations, and the need to alter the scope of work for projects across a number of health sectors due to organizations declining to accept the conditions of the policy. This report follows two others from the U.S. government: a six-month review released by the State Department in February of 2018 and a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Congressional News

House Democrats call for information about current appropriations

Appropriations Chairwoman, Nita Lowey (D-NY), Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-NY) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought requesting information about “all apportionments and reapportionments” for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The request reflects concerns about rescissions or measures limiting or delaying foreign assistance spending.

COVID-19 emergency supplemental funding negotiations at stand still

Negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House are barely moving forward as of Friday, August 7, leaving the global health community concerned that no agreement may be made. Please share your thoughts and concerns by emailing Global Health Council will continue to connect with congressional leaders about the importance of additional funding for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If those in our network wish to provide feedback about what more GHC can do to amplify our message, please let us know!

Secretary Pompeo testifies at SFRC Hearing 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a hearing on the FY21 State Department budget request. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was the only witness. U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), global health, and COVID-19 received little attention. Echoing the global health community, Ranking Member Menendez addressed the decision to withdraw from the WHO in his opening statement, and Senator Lindsey Graham urged cooperation to get a COVID-19 vaccine to market and to share with the developing world, “because it will do no good to eradicate it here if we don’t eradicate it everywhere.”

HFAC subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response in Africa

On July 30, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic response in Africa. Chris Maloney, acting assistant administrator in the Bureau for Africa at the USAID was a witness at the hearing.

FY21 minibus, including LHHS bill, moved forward

On July 31, the House debated a $1.3 trillion ‘minibus’ spending package, H.R. 7617, combining the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) with six other appropriations bills. This bill included an increase of $500 million for the National Institutes of Health, $127.6 million increase for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and $5.7 million increase for the Fogarty International Center, and $232 million increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill report language can be found here.

HFAC passed SAFE Act

On July 29, HFAC passed the Securing America From Epidemics (SAFE) Act, a bill which authorizes U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The bill was also included in the HEROES Act, which passed in May.

United Nations Transparency & Accountability Act of 2020

Ranking Member of HFAC, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 7939 in an effort to increase U.S. leadership and engagement at the United Nations (UN) through key reforms. The bill requires the Secretary of State to report on UN Member States determined to be engaged in malign influence operations within the UN system. It also authorizes and expands the current American Citizens Unit into the Office of American Citizens, to advocate for employment of U.S. citizens within all international organizations of which the United States is a member and coordinate interagency support for American candidates for leadership or oversight roles within international organizations, among other things.

International News

World Mask Week

The global health community celebrated #WorldMaskWeek August 7-14. The campaign was meant to inspire more people to wear face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. You can read more about why masks matter here.