Global Health Appropriations: New Republicans on House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee bring mixed history on PEPFAR

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The House Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, with oversight on funding issues involving USAID  and the State Department, has six new members — three Republicans and three Democrats — bringing a mix of experience and stances on global health issues, including on policy, funding, and research. Today Science Speaks looks at the new Republican members of the subcommittee that will influence global health spending.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R – Ga.) also serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services which oversees spending for Department of Health and Human Services programs, including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has served in Congress for 20 years and notes on his government Web site that he was “quickly  . . . recognized as a leader on budget and spending issues,” leading to his appointment in his second term to the Appropriations Committee, and that he has “fought hard to rein in federal spending.” He voted to authorize the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief when it was proposed by the Bush administration in 2003, but voted against reauthorizing PEPFAR in 2008. Subsequently, he toured  a PEPFAR-funded Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation program in Côte d’Ivoire, where, according to a foundation press release he was told that of 22,000 people tested for HIV at the site, 1,500 had discovered they had the virus that leads to AIDS and were being treated there. According to the press release, staff members also explained the impact losing PEPFAR funding would have on those patients, as well as the ongoing efforts to build sustainable capacities there. A former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Kingston was an agribusiness  insurance salesman and vice president of an insurance company before entering politics.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), who came to Congress in 2001, returns to the subcommittee where he previously served from  2003 to 2009. He voted for the original PEPFAR authorization in 2003, and then voted against reauthorizing the plan in 2008. In 2012 he and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wa) launched the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance to examine current delivery and explore successful efforts. In a press release  after the new subcommittee assignments were announced, Crenshaw said his focus would include “clearly-defined and thoroughly-analyzed policy that builds fiscal responsibility, protects national security, and utilizes foreign aid in an effective and streamlined manner.”  He added a list of goals for foreign aid that included “access and development of sustainable global markets, poverty reduction and greater national security,” saying the goals “are in everyone’s best interest.” A former bank executive and attorney, Crenshaw came to Congress after serving in the Florida State Senate.

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) takes a seat on the Subcommittee as he begins his second term in Congress, and his second stint serving on the House Appropriations Committee. Running for Congress his “Top Ten Priorities,”  include “Getting America Back to Work,” “Helping You Keep More of Your Money,” “Eliminating Wasteful Government Spending,”  “Stop Borrowing Against Future Generations,” and “Securing Our Borders,” but do not indicate a global policy priority. Yoder has travelled to Israel since taking office. Before coming to Congress, Yoder served as representative to the Kansas State Legislature.

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