Senate agrees on global health funding, small boost for TB

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Shaheen amendment reverses bill’s defunding of UNFPA, reinstatement of Global Gag Rule, family planning cuts

While the Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to flat-fund most global health programs, including HIV responses, the Committee voted to modestly increase TB funding with  $241 million for USAID’s global tuberculosis program —  a $5 million increase over current funding. The increase is the first in more than four years to USAID’s global tuberculosis program.

The bill provides $745 million for malaria eradication efforts — $71 million above last year’s funding.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief gets the same $4.32 billion as allotted in last years budget, and funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria stays at $1.35 billion.

The bill provides $72.5 million to combat pandemic influenza, and $100 million to combat neglected and tropical diseases – both equal to last year’s funding.

In a congenial hearing during which Senators agreed they wished they had more to spend, the most divisive point on global health funding came in the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee’s proposal to cut family planning and an amendment offered in response.

amendmentLike the House bill, the Subcommittee bill codified the Mexico City policy, prohibiting federal funding to private organizations that provide abortion services in countries where it is legal, limited funding for USAID family planning programs to $461 million ($124 million less than the request level) and barred a U.S. contribution to the UN Population Fund.

The amendment offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), however, and agreed to in a 17 – 13 vote across party lines, restored USAID family planning funding to $585 million, provided $37.5 million for UNFPA, and repealed the Mexico City policy. Republican Senators Kirk (R-IL), Collins (R-NE) and Murkowski (R-AK) joined Democratic senators in voting for the Shaheen amendment.

Next stop: Senate floor, after which the House and Senate will have to, once again, reconcile differing approaches to global health funding . . .

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