The Senate State Foreign Operations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2015 funding bill Tuesday with no new resources for the U.S. flagship global AIDS program, PEPFAR, and an $11 million cut in the U.S. response to global tuberculosis. PEPFAR is funded at $4.02 billion and TB at $225 million. The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria receives $1.35 billion in the bill for the fiscal year beginning October 1.
The House counterpart on Tuesday approved a draft bill that would add $300 million to PEPFAR funding and hold funding for TB responses steady at $236 million. The Senate subcommittee, like the House subcommittee, faced an Obama administration proposal that flat lined PEPFAR resources and recommended a $45 million cut for TB fighting efforts, but with less allocated funding. The resulting constraints stymied advocates’ efforts to convince committee members of the urgent need for funding increases for the world’s two biggest infectious disease killers. Nevertheless, the funding subcommittee did fund other global health programs above the president’s budget request including programs funding initiatives in pandemic influenza and neglected tropical diseases.
Congressional funding action now moves to the House and Senate appropriations committees, which are expected to consider the respective subcommittee bills later this week. If global HIV and TB funding levels remain constant when the full funding committees act, advocates will turn their attention to working to ensure that the House more generous funding levels prevail in the final funding measure that is enacted into law.
These critical funding decisions come on the heels of a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies calling for more U.S. resources to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infection and research and development for new TB tools, and priorities of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator to continue to scale-up pediatric and adult treatment and other core HIV interventions.