The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, with oversight that includes funding for the State Department and USAID, has four new members announced this week with diverse approaches and backgrounds in global health issues.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) became the only woman in history to have been elected as a state governor and U.S. Senator, when she came to the senate in 2009, according to her Senate bio. As a member of Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Smart Global Health Policy, she participated in producing a report that urged continued and increased investment in global health, a “consistent trajectory” of increased support for efforts to combat global HIV and TB epidemics, and doubling spending on maternal and child health efforts. She has said that international spending consists of a much smaller fraction of the budget than most Americans realize and that global health investments promote peace. Before entering politics she was a small business owner, according to her Senate bio. Between the end of her three terms as New Hampshire Governor and her election to the Senate she served as director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Her other committee assignments in the Senate include a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sen. Mark Begich (D – AK) came to the Senate in 2009 as the first Democrat to represent Alaska in nearly three decades having beaten an embattled Sen. Ted Stevens as the Senate’s longest serving Republican faced corruption charges. News reports have noted Begich’s potential vulnerability as a red state Democrat, facing a fight for his seat in the coming year. The list of priorities on his Senate web page is heavy on Alaskan and Arctic issues, lighter on issues further from home. That includes international issues, although Begich belongs to several caucuses promoting strengthened relationships overseas, including the Senate India Caucus. A six-term mayor of Anchorage, Begich previously served in the city’s assembly.
Sen. John Boozman (R -AR) came to the Senate in 2011 after five terms in the House of Representatives where he served on the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee and as co-chair of the Congressional Malaria Caucus. The first Senator to join the Congressional HIV AIDS Caucus, he describes himself as a global health advocate and a supporter of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. He has spoken in pragmatic and humanitarian terms about global health efforts, citing “the large impact through small investments that Americans are making on the hearts and minds of families in developing countries,” and of humanitarian programs that “build allies in developing countries,” as well as of a “moral responsibility,” to extend overseas aid, and the importance of building sustainable programs to fight the global HIV epidemic. He also has promoted increased trade with Africa as co-sponsor of a bill introduced last fall. An optometrist, Sen. Boozman came to Congress after serving on his school district’s board.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) came to the Senate in 2009, after serving as Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. An attorney and former member of the Lincoln City Council, and Lancaster County Board, he served a term and a half as Nebraska Governor before heading the Agriculture department. As Agriculture Secretary, he expressed recognition that “Science would seem to indicate that nutrition is essential for the success of those drugs that put HIV-AIDS in remission if you will. We recognize that. And so it seems to make sense that as we do what we can to address this worldwide problem really, that we stay focused on food aid as being a central part of that regimen in terms of treatment for HIV-AIDS.”