114th Congress and Global Health: Senate Appropriations Committee, subcommittees leadership passes to familiar and new leaders with global health, research and human rights records

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The November 2014 election saw Republicans gain the majority in the Senate, putting both houses of Congress under GOP control for the first time since 2006, and giving the party control over hearings and legislative action with leadership of all committees and subcommittees. As the new Senate majority and continuing House majority set the legislative agenda for the coming session, Science Speaks 114th Congress series this week will look at changes to committees pivotal to global health concerns, including new leaders, new faces, and new subcommittees, with newly defined jurisdictions. You can also check out the IDSA Center for Global Health Policy listing of relevant House and Senate committee and subcommittee membership at the link below.

The new Republican Senate majority brought a change in leadership to the Appropriations Committee along with switched seats and other changes to the leadership of subcommittees overseeing global health program and research funding.

ThadCochranSen. Thad Cochran ( R – Miss.) who chaired the Appropriations committee during the 109th Congress, and has served on the committee in the time since, is Chairman of the committee once again. Cochran has served in the Senate since 1978, and according to his Senate website biography, “continues to fight to maintain National Institutes of Health research opportunities for colleges and universities in rural states like Mississippi.” He voted in favor of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, which reauthorized PEPFAR and commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria.

MikulskiSen. Barbara Mikulski (D – Md.) who chaired the Appropriations Committee during the 113th Congress is now the committee’s Ranking Member. Representing the state that is home to the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University, she has been considered a strong supporter of medical research.

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee

This subcommittee makes annual funding decisions for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the USAID TB program.

GrahamSen. Lindsay Graham (R – SC) and Sen. Patrick Leahy who led the subcommittee during the 113th Congress switched seats in January, with Graham now Chairman and Leahy now Ranking Member. Although Sen. Graham voted against the act that reauthorized PEPFAR and Global Fund commitments in 2008, he has has spoken frequently on the link between foreign aid and national security, and on the value of global health responses. When USAID head Rajiv Shah appeared before the subcommittee in 2013 to address the Obama administration’s budget for fiscal year 2014, Sen. Graham was the only  member to question proposed cuts to PEPFAR funding. During that period he also referred to the impact of PEPFAR funding, saying “I can’t think of a better example where a relatively small amount of money has such a huge impact. It would be a shame to pull the plug.”

LeahySen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) – A former State’s Attorney who has served in the Senate since 1974, Sen. Leahy has a strong human rights record that has included addressing abusive, unsanitary, and infectious disease-fostering conditions in foreign prisons, and calling for a review of aid to Uganda in the wake of its enactment last year of punitive anti-gay legislation. Sen. Leahy voted for the 2008 act to reauthorize PEPFAR.

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee

 Oversight of this subcommittee includes annual funding decisions for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

BluntSen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) – who served in the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2011 before coming to the Senate, is chairman of this subcommittee. As a Congressman, Blunt voted for the original authorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2003, but against its reauthorization in 2008. Sen. Blunt, who has co-sponsored and supported repeated efforts to repeal the domestic Affordable Care Act — ObamaCare — noted in a statement following his appointment to head the subcommittee that the role would provide an opportunity to revisit some of the law’s provisions.

murraySen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.) – chaired the Budget Committee and served on this subcommittee as well as well as on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has program authority for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health during the 113th Congress. Sen. Murray, whose jurisdiction is home to the global health research-promoting Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has spoken and voted in support of research, health equity, reproductive health, and foreign aid.

 See the IDSA Center for Global Health Policy Guide to the 114th Congress here.

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