This article is a follow up to an earlier post to Science Speaks exploring Republican members of the new Congress who are key players in global health policy and funding.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Chair of the House Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee:
The Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee determines some important global health funding, such as funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a portion of the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The new chair of the subcommittee is Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who had previously served on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has been named as the ranking member on the subcommittee.
Rehberg is Montana’s sole representative to the U.S. House, serving since 2001. In 2005 he raised concerns about accountability at the Global Fund. In 2006 he travelled to Uganda and other African countries to learn about the HIV/AIDS crisis. Rehberg has cited the work of the Rocky Mountain Technology Group located in Billings, Montana, in training Ugandans in patient monitoring technology.
In 2007 Rehberg voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), which aimed to block a provision that allows the president to waive the requirement that at least 33 percent of global HIV prevention funds be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs. In 2008 Rehberg voted for the Lantos-Hyde bill.
While Rehberg voted for the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act (Lantos-Hyde), all of the other Republicans now on the subcommittee – except Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) who was not then in office – voted against the bill.
In 2010 Rehberg proposed an amendment to the foreign aid bill that would have cut spending by $4 billion. He also proposed an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill to cut spending by $13 billion.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee:
The Foreign Relations Committee is the main oversight committee that examines the operation of U.S. global health programs and considers legislation authorizing such programs, including foreign aid reform.
Ros-Lehtinen, the incoming chair, represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Miami, Little Havana, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Miami Beach, Westchester and the Florida Keys. Priority issues for her include support for Israel, concerns about Cuba, supporting free trade and concerns about the United Nations.
In 2005 Ros-Lehtinen she was a key co-sponsor of the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005, which was signed into law. She voted for the Pitts amendment in 2007.
From 2007-08 Ros-Lehtinen played a major role in the reauthorization of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), introducing her own bill that would have authorized $30 billion for the program from 2009-13, instead of the $48 billion authorization that was ultimately enacted. The $30 billion funding level would have been close to flat funding for the AIDS program. In 2008 she voted for the eventual compromise result that became the Lantos-Hyde bill.
Ros-Lehtinen has been a champion for evidence-based policies to support prevention of HIV for persons who inject drugs. In 2008 she and Rep. José E. Serrano (D-NY) introduced the Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act of 2008, in order to remove all restrictions on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs to reduce the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C.
In 2010 Ros-Lehtinen expressed concern about the cost of U.S. global health programs and her sense that the PEPFAR program was losing its focus. She has stated that “restoring fiscal discipline” and “exercising vigorous oversight to identify waste, fraud, and abuse” will be key priorities. In 2010 she successfully defeated a bill to help combat child marriage because it would require additional funds ($67 million in additional outlays, 2011-15) and because of Republican concerns that it would authorize funding for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that promote and perform abortion.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health:
Rep. Smith represents the 4th Congressional District in New Jersey, which includes parts of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties. He chairs the crucial subcommittee that has direct jurisdiction over global health programs.
Smith has a strong focus on issues related to refugees and human trafficking and he is a strong opponent of abortion. He voted in favor of the Pitts amendment in 2007. During the negotiation of the Lantos-Hyde bill he was a strong advocate against integration of HIV/AIDS and family planning programs and in favor of requiring recipients of U.S. funding to oppose prostitution. Notwithstanding these issues, Smith has been a vocal supporter of PEPFAR and he voted in favor of the Lantos-Hyde bill. He recently expressed concern about the lack of authorizing legislation for the Global Health Initiative.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations:
Rep. Rohrabacher represents California’s 46th District, which stretches along the Pacific coastline of Orange County and Los Angeles.
In 2007 Rohrabacher voted in favor of the Pitts amendment. During the negotiation of Lantos-Hyde he was a strong critic of the program’s expansion and the authorization level, and he voted against the bill. Recently, he has been critical of China as a recipient of Global Fund resources. In his new role he will be spearheading investigations into these and other issues.
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Health Committee:
Rep. Pitts represents Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, which includes the far-west suburbs of Philadelphia and the heart of the Amish country.
Rep. Pitts has been a strong advocate for abstinence programs and against abortion. In 2007 he authored an amendment that would have blocked a provision allowing the president to waive the requirement to spend at least 33 percent of global HIV prevention funds on abstinence-until-marriage programs. He spoke out in favor of requiring programs to oppose prostitution. In 2008 he voted against the Lantos-Hyde bill.