House bills reject Trump retreat from U.S. leadership of global infectious disease responses

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Brushing aside White House proposals to cut global HIV and other international disease response funding, members of the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee released a bill set to be finalized Friday, reflecting steadfast, and in some cases growing support for research, preparedness and response efforts to control the impacts of infections and outbreaks worldwide.

The bill creates a $300 million “Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund,” to provide readiness to prevent, prepare for, or respond to domestic and global infectious disease outbreaks, with authority over the fund resting with the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who can transfer resources throughout CDC, NIH, and the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Details remain to be seen, including whether the fund represents new dollars.

In addition, the bill provides $5.368 billion, for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, up from $5.260 billion for 2018, provides $76.637 million for the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, up from $75 million for 2018 (the White House, which proposed eliminating the 50-year-old global health research and training arm in 2017, had this time suggested cutting $5 million from its budget), and $586 million for the ​​Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, up $50 million for 2018.

Funding for Global Health and HIV efforts at the CDC remains flat in the bill, with                    $488.055 million, $128 million of which is for HIV/AIDS.

The bill repeats a trend of sustained, and in some cases significantly strengthened support for infectious disease responses demonstrated in the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee bill released earlier in the week. Most notably, with $302 million for USAID’s TB responses, a $42 million boost for the international program, which had in 2018 received $261 million — a $20 million bump up over $241 million in 2017. With flat funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, that subcommittee’s bill also rejected Trump administration proposals to diminish U.S. involvement in global HIV responses.

Stay tuned . . . as we look forward to Senate bills later this month.

Infectious Diseases Society of America Government Relations Director Lisa Cox and Senior Global Health Policy Specialist Rabita Aziz contributed to this report.

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