House meets President’s budget request for global AIDS, slashes international, family planning aid

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capitolfeaturedThe funding bill for fiscal year 2014 that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations voted on today met the President’s request for global HIV/AIDS programs, while dramatically slashing other international aid programs.  Overall the full State and Foreign Operations allocation is 19 percent below current levels and the President’s request. The full House Appropriations Committee will consider the bill next Wednesday, July 24.

The bill allocates a total of $5.67 billion for global HIV/AIDS programs under the State Department and USAID, which includes $1.65 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and $4.02 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These figures are in line with the President’s FY 2014 budget request, released in April.

The House dramatically reduced overall international aid funding by allocating  $17.3 billion – a decrease of $5.8 billion from FY 2013 enacted levels. Global health programs—at $8.2 billion enjoy a slight increase compared to current levels, totaling in $8.2 billion.

Like the President’s request, the House allocation for PEPFAR is the lowest in four years, dropping from $4.24 billion in FY 2012 and $4.067 billion under a FY 2013 continuing resolution. Given the overall low funding in the bill, however, global HIV/AIDS funding being spared a more severe cut is good news.

If the House follows the President’s request for other global health programs that means bad news for global tuberculosis spending under USAID, which took a massive 19 percent cut compared to FY 2012 under the President’s budget request.  We’ll have more details about the global TB budget in upcoming days as the full report language is released.

In addition to massive cuts, the funding bill also includes what House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers calls “important policy provisions to ensure the respect for life around the globe” denying funding to family planning programs, proposing reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that offer abortion counseling and services. Under this provision, the UN Population Fund, which works to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health, will receive no funding. In addition, the bill caps family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million. Current funding for family planning and reproductive health programs overseas is about $598 million; the president requested $635.4 million for FY 2014.

Multilateral assistance programs received a monumental cut of 61 percent, with many international organizations receiving zero funding under the House bill, including the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund and the African Development Bank. Funding is also denied for many United Nations programs, including the UN Refugee and Works Agency.

Other accounts were significantly reduced, with  the Millennium Challenge Corporation cut by 18 percent, and the International Disaster Assistance account, cut by 40 percent.  Some accounts, like the Peace Corps were flat-funded.

In a statement, Committee ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey said, “While Chairwoman Granger really did the best she could, the bill we have before us today represents a greater than 20 percent reduction from Fiscal Year 2013 pre-sequestration level in a bill that is only 1% of the federal budget.”

Stay tuned  to Science Speaks: Today’s mark-up is the opening salvo of the FY 2014 appropriations process by the Congress.  The Senate companion subcommittee is slated to vote on their version of the funding bill next Tuesday and has an overall allocation that is $10 billion higher than the House, which should produce more generous funding levels.

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