At the end of July, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees considered the fiscal year (FY) 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations bills, which include the key global health, education, and microfinance accounts for which RESULTS advocates.
Here’s how these key programs fared in both bills:
Unlike in years past, it’s difficult to generalize the outcomes of the bills this year. Both the House and Senate championed the Global Fund and the GAVI Alliance by including the full amount RESULTS requested for these accounts in their bills. By fully funding the Global Fund in 2014, Congress is making a strong statement about the need for U.S. leadership as the international community looks toward Global Fund replenishment later this year.
But microfinance, education, bilateral TB, and nutrition all fared better to various extents in the House bill, while the Senate prioritized maternal and child health programs and the Global Partnership for Education.
It is likely that Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, led the charge in the House to protect basic education by funding the program at $800 million, the same level as last year. On the other hand, the Senate included the number that was in the president’s FY14 budget request, $501 million — nearly a $300 million cut to the program. We are pleased that both bills authorized funding for GPE, with the Senate including a specific number. Continued work is needed to ensure this funding stays in the bill and is increased as we move ahead.
Looking at TB, RESULTS is pleased that neither chamber opted to follow the president’s budget request of $191 million, a drastic cut from last year’s level. However, the Senate’s number is still a slight decrease from 2013 and must be increased in any final negotiations.
So what’s next?
Especially because funding in the current bills is such a mixed bag, RESULTS will continue to advocate to the Appropriations Committees and House and Senate leadership for the higher funding levels in either the House or Senate bills, depending on the account.
However, it seems unlikely at this point that the individual bills will ever make it as far as a conference committee. The overall numbers for the SFOPS bills are drastically different in each chamber with the House appropriating a total of $40.6 billion for the SFOPS bill accounts, while Senate had $50.6 billion to work with — a $10 billion difference.
Instead, it seems likely that Congress will pass a continuing resolution as we head into fiscal year 2014, ensuring most programs continue at the same funding levels as 2013. No matter what route Congress chooses to take, it is critical that RESULTS pushes for the higher funding levels for these key poverty-focused accounts.