As the 112th Congress draws to a close, Science Speaks is following changes in global health leadership, today looking at outgoing global issues leaders Rep. Howard Berman, former chair, and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) — A champion of global health, development and diplomacy, the California congressman used his position as lead Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to call for accountable, transparent and effective aid. He proposed modernizing the Foreign Assistance Act, citing the need to “work with partner governments and local communities to make sure they have the will and ability to keep projects going with their own resources.” At an 2010 hearing on global health programs PEPFAR and the Global Fund, he raised a concern of whether speedy movement toward country ownership of programs supported by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief would overwhelm partner nations. A member of the bipartisan House HIV/AIDS Caucus formed last year, he urged the Obama Administration to increase the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria. Berman also was a member of of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which sought to raise awareness and responses to global human rights abuses. His 15 terms in Congress followed 10 years in the California State Assembly. After being re-elected to Congress 14 times, redistricting pitted him against fellow California Democrat Brad Sherman, and cost him the seat in a tight race Nov. 7.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) — Asked what Republican she could work with on key issues, the first name that came to incoming Senator Elizabeth Warren’s mind was that of the senior senator from Indiana. Lugar, the lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and one of the key architects of the bill creating the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, he took an active role in pushing global health matters to the forefront. He joined Senator John Kerry in 2009 in leading the charge to restore $4 billion to the international affairs budget, after the Senate Budget Committee flatlined the funding that supports global HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs. Lugar also joined Kerry in pushing Obama to quickly fill the top post at USAID in 2009. At confirmation hearings for U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby Lugar raised the importance of health worker training in global U.S. supported programs. First elected to the Sentate in 1976, he served as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1985 to 1987, and then from 2003 to 2007. He lost his bid for a 7th term, when he was defeated in the primary for his seat last May Indiana State Treasurer and Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock. Mourdock, in turn, was defeated by Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Science Speaks will continue to feature posts about new Congressional and Obama Administration leaders in global health in the coming weeks.