115th Congress and Global Health: House Appropriations gets new Chair, while Rogers assumes leadership of State and Foreign Operations subcommittee

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Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen takes seat held by Rogers since 2011

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)

The 115th Congress began on January 3rd, 2017, bringing new members to House and Senate committees addressing global health policies and funding. Science Speaks introduces you to those members in this series.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) – A New Jersey Representative starting his 12th term in Congress, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen takes over leadership of the House Appropriations Committee as former Chair Hal Rogers’ leadership term ends. He is the second-longest serving Republican on the committee. While critical of Obamacare, Rep. Frelinghuysen voted and portrayed himself as a relative moderate on social issues, not only splitting from fellow Republicans consistently by voting against moves to defund Planned Parenthood, but asserting that he and his wife regularly donated to the organization’s Northern New Jersey center. That changed in 2015, as his name was raised for Appropriations leadership, when, he said, the videos created by an anti-abortion group changed his mind. He has added that he would again support federal funding for Planned Parenthood if the videos were discredited.

As Chairman of the House Appropriations  Subcommittee on Defense in 2014, he approved quick and full funding of President Obama’s request for emergency Ebola response funding while expressing reservations about federal responses to the crisis, including the appointment of an Ebola “czar.” He added to that his recommendation that if anyone were to hold the position of leading the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci would be the choice. He includes “Science and Technology” among the issues addressed on his House web site, crediting the National Institutes of Health with providing “amazing research and and development with over 400,000 research grants aimed to eradicate disease and eliminate suffering,” and calling himself a “strong proponent of NIH funding.”

Following the 2016 election, on his appointment to head the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Frellinghuysen released a statement hailing the “unique opportunity” the next  year offers “to transform the size, scope and direction of the government,” adding that “the Appropriations Committee will be key to that effort!” More recently, he has expressed reservations about President Trump’s “Executive Order on Immigration,” saying “confusion” over the weekend “is an indication that the details of the order were not properly scrutinized.” In the statement, he concludes “Congress has important oversight responsibilities over all executive orders, which we intend to exercise.”

Rep. Hal Rogers

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky) – As his term  as House Appropriations Chair ends, Rep. Hal Rogers, the longest serving Republican on the committee assumes leadership of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.  In 2011, in the beginning of Rep. Rogers’s leadership of Appropriations, Science Speaks noted that he (as well as the then new Budget Committee Chair, now House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan) had voted against the widely bipartisan-supported Lantos-Hyde legislation that reauthorized funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In 2013, with overall international aid money slashed, and PEPFAR at its lowest funding level in four years, Rep. Rogers praised what he called “important policy provisions to ensure the respect for life around the globe,” which denied money to family planning programs, and proposed reinstatement of the so-called Mexico City Policy” prohibiting family planning money to organizations where counseling or referrals for pregnancy terminations are provided (now reinstated and expanded by President Trump).

In May 2016 he responded to President Obama’s February request for emergency funding of $1.9 billion for global and domestic Zika responses with legislation offering, in his words, “a total of $622.1 million to federal agencies to fight the Zika virus and prevent it from spreading” to be available over the following five months, with every dollar coming from funds previously committed to Ebola responses, Department of Health and Human Services funding committed to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and disallowing funding targeting the sexually transmitted disease that causes devastating neurological birth defects in children born to infected women, for family planning.

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