The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to provide $7.9 billion for global health programs for the 2012 fiscal year beginning October 1 – $810 million below what President Obama requested for these programs and about $75 million above current funding levels – according to a committee press release.
For the second year in a row, the global AIDS budget has been cut – despite promising research findings that chart a way forward to cut the toll from the major infectious disease killer. The bill included funding for The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) at $5.25 billion – $90 million less than current funding – and $750 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria—the same funding level as fiscal year (FY) 2011. Global tuberculosis was flat-funded at $238.3 million.
The Senate bill also contains $89 million to combat neglected tropical diseases and $642 million for malaria programs. It is widely assumed that the Senate proposed funding levels represent the high water mark for funding for FY 2012.
The Senate bill does include more funding than the House bill for global health programs, although the measures are difficult to compare since the House chose to group global health programs together in one budget line. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee also voted on its Labor-HHS-Education funding bill. That bill includes funding for the National Institutes of Health at $30.5 billion – a $190 million or 0.6 percent reduction over current funding for the research agency. Also included in this funding bill is $300 million for the Global Fund, bringing total funding for the Global Fund on the Senate side to $1.05 billion – the same as current funding for the program.
The House bill funding global health programs also contained language prohibiting funding for syringe exchange programs for U.S.-funded international programs. At press time it appears that comparable language was not included in the Senate measure.
With the current fiscal year set to end on September 30, Congress does not have time to resolve the differences between the House and Senate funding bills. There is currently a contentious debate on disaster relief legislation which will also serve as a legislative vehicle to continue funding for federal programs until fiscal year 2012 funding bills are enacted and signed into law.