Searching for a good news story out of Washington in 2018? We’ve finally got one. After six months of dogged advocacy from RESULTS advocates, both the House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee reversed the extreme cuts to global anti-poverty programs proposed by the White House for the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget. In some cases, Congress even increased funding for RESULTS’ priority global health and development programs.
This outcome was in no way a given. At the start of this year, the White House released its annual budget, slashing funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by billions. Some of the deepest cuts were to programs that aim to improve basic nutrition for moms and kids in low-income countries and to global basic education programs for girls.
Luckily, RESULTS volunteers are a persistent bunch. They know it’s Congress that holds the purse strings for annual spending levels. By weighing in early and often with members of Congress and key staff, RESULTS advocates made their voices heard. On both sides of the Hill, the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee (known as SFOPS) heard from their colleagues in record numbers thanks to your advocacy efforts.
Here are some of the highlights from the FY19 bills that passed out of the full appropriations committees:
Tuberculosis: With TB now the world’s leading infectious disease killer, Congress is taking note and responding to the global need. Both the House and Senate increased funding to fight TB – the House increased funding for bilateral tuberculosis efforts by a record $41 million! After stagnation for years in TB funding, this is now the third fiscal year in a row Congress is working to increase TB funding.
Nutrition: Malnutrition is attributed to almost half of the under-five deaths in children. While funding has improved to fight severe acute and chronic malnutrition, many countries still see stunting rates of 40-50 percent in children under the age of five. For FY19 the Senate SFOPS bill increased funding for Nutrition in Global Health by $10 million this year. The House SFOPS bill increased funding for Nutrition in Global Health by double that – $20 million!
Global Partnership for Education (GPE): Annually since fiscal year 2013, the House has appropriated incremental increases to GPE to support quality national education plans in developing countries. This year both the House and Senate bills increased GPE funding by $2.5 million.
Maternal and Child Health funding was increased in the House bill by $15.5 million and restored to current funding in the Senate bill.
Both the House and the Senate bills maintained current funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ($1.35 billion) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance ($290 million) – a great accomplishment after the significant cuts we saw for these accounts in the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget request.
The House maintained full funding for the Basic Education account at $800 million, but the Senate marks did reduce funding for the account as they have for the past several fiscal years. Historically, that funding cut has been restored in the final bill negotiations thanks to the House Leadership.
One thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are not quite final. Both bills still must be voted on by their full prospective chambers before being conferenced to finalize funding levels for the year. Still, RESULTS is pleased with the initial marks out of committee and applauds the House and Senate SFOPS Committee Chairs and Ranking Members for increasing funding for these critical programs.
On next steps, it’s expected that both chambers will try to move their bills for votes on the floor before August recess. Likely, both chambers will have final action on appropriations before September 30 – or the end of the fiscal year. But, they may still be wrapped up in a group of bills known as an “omnibus bill” to be voted on as a package deal. For the past several years, we’ve seen this negotiation process drag out with other political deals getting in the mix. In the meantime, RESULTS’ advocacy efforts will focus on asking Congressional leaders to include the higher House funding levels in any final spending bill.
Again – in a year of uncertainty from Congress – your efforts to build bipartisan, bicameral momentum on global health and development is an incredible feat. Let’s keep it up.
See the chart below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers:
FY19 RESULTS’ Request
FY19 President’s Request
Maternal and Child Health
of which Gavi
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria