Senate Appropriations Committee Sets Funding Levels

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The Senate Appropriations Committee finalized the funding levels for the Senate’s version of the FY2011 State/Foreign Operations Appropriations bill yesterday. A recording of the proceedings is on the Appropriations Committee website.

As in the House, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a funding level for international affairs that was less than what the President requested.  International affairs bore the brunt of the cuts to the President’s budget request.

Despite the overall smaller pie to slice from, programs for HIV/AIDS and TB did receive what the President requested and the Global Fund got an increase above the President’s request.  Yet, as The Washington Post documented earlier this week, global AIDS advocates remain very concerned about the funding trajectory and what the President will propose for FY2012.

The report accompanying the bill includes a very important line, which states, “The Committee recognizes the significant treatment gap in many PEPFAR focus countries and recommends that efficiencies achieved from reduced treatment costs be used to provide services to new enrollees seeking access to antiretroviral treatment.” Several Senators had raised questions about whether Administration was allowing efficiencies to be utilized in this way.

As with the House, a portion of the funding for PEPFAR is specified for the GHI Plus Strategic Reserve Fund, for technical, management and financial assistance, as requested by the Administration.  Another portion comes from USAID.

Funding levels approved included:

  • Tuberculosis: $230 million, $10m less than what the House subcommittee approved (House mark $240 million; FY2010: $225m).
  • HIV/AIDS Bilateral: $5.85 billion, which is equal to the President’s request and $141 million above the FY2010 level.  That puts the Senate level at $50 million higher than the House level for bilateral AIDS.
  • Global Fund: $800 million through State/Foreign operations, which is $100 million above the President’s request (House mark: $825 million; FY2010: $750 million) and $300 million through Labor HHS.  The total for the Fund is $25 million less than what the House has approved.

The Chairman of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Sen. Patrick Leahy, presented the bill, speaking passionately about the increased access to basic education and to childhood immunizations which the bill would finance.  He noted that several senators had offered amendments that were included in the bill, including two from the Republican side.  One of these, from Sen. Bennett, related to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative at the World Bank.  Yet, the bill was approved along strict party lines.

The next step will be consideration by a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, possibly to take place in a lame duck session after the Fall election.  We hope the conferees accept the highest levels: the House numbers for TB and the Global Fund and the Senate level for PEPFAR.

Another piece of relatively good news yesterday, relayed by Nuala Moore at the American Thoracic Society — unlike the House, the Senate Appropriations Committee did not adopt the President’s proposed $1.2 million cut to CDC’s domestic TB program. The 2011 funding level for the TB program is instead frozen at the FY2010 level of $144.2 million. When the Labor HHS bill goes to conference, we will advocate for the Senate figure in this case.

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