In case you lost track on the many month long appropriations campaign, here’s a reminder of where we are on Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).
Back in June – the full House appropriations committee marked up the FY16 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations bill that supports the Global development issues we care about. Mrs. Nita Lowey, the lead Democrat and Ranking Member of the full appropriations committee and the SFOPS sub-committee said repeatedly, “in this bill there are clear winners and losers.” The total funding for the House SFOPS bill was 3% less than last year’s bill because of sequestration and 11% below the President’s request – so overall, they were working to slice up a smaller pie.
In July, the full Senate appropriations committee also marked up their SFOPs bill, flat-lining almost all of the programs to FY15 levels.
From RESULTS standpoint, while the poverty-focused funding for the accounts that we support did not get the overall increases that we were working toward, having these accounts protected in this climate with small jumps up in some areas, was a real success. It’s definitely a testament to the work you did in February through April to get your members of Congress to weigh in early and often to support these programs.
Particularly we are happy to say both the House and Senate funding provides up to $1.35 billion for the Global Fund (which is $244 million above the president’s request), and was in no way guaranteed when we started working on this. They also restored funding cuts to the bilateral TB and nutrition programs that were proposed by the administration allocating $236 million for TB and $115 million for Nutrition in global health.
Also to note, both chambers restored Basic Education funding to $800 million and increased the Global Partnership for Education to $70 million, which is another $20 million over FY15.
The differences in the House and Senate bills were in the amounts for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, that passed out of committees. The Senate flat-funded the MCH account at $715 million, including just $200 million for Gavi. Senate level puts us off course for meeting the $1 billion over 4 year pledge to Gavi made in January, and was $55 million below the President’s budget request. Meanwhile, the House allocated $882 million for MCH and $235 million for Gavi – which puts us on target for meeting the pledge. The MCH increase ($112 million above the President’s request of $770 million) is accounted for by the bill’s requirement that the Global Health account must also fund any U.S. contribution to UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF is normally funded through another account (the International Organizations and Programs account) that the House FY16 bill otherwise zeros out. Protecting UNICEF by including it in MCH was a bold move by the House that shows Congress wanted to ensure child health funding is protected, while still choosing to make other cuts.
Knowing that our two biggest campaigns last year were around increasing funding to The Global Partnership for Education at their replenishment last June and then the work we did on Gavi’s replenishment in January, it’s clear that these were prioritized in this zero sum bill by increases to both of those funding levels, particularly in the House. It’s also clear that your advocacy to protect and advance these programs mattered to move the dial and to protect programs from proposed cuts.
As August recess ends, we will find out more about “What’s next?” with the final appropriations bills and what kind of overall budget deal will need to be made to keep the government funded after September 30. The decisions have yet to be made on whether there will be a full or partial continuing resolution (known as a C.R.) which would maintain funding at fiscal year 2015’s appropriations levels. As both chambers have been unable to pass all of the individual appropriations bills by the full congress, there may also be a combination plan to bring appropriations bills to the floor either in an “omnibus” (group of all the bills together) or a “mini-bus” (group of only a few of the appropriations bills together) fashion as Congress has done before to get appropriations bills passed.
We will keep you up to date if any next actions are needed to make sure these global poverty focused accounts are funded at the highest levels possible for FY16.