BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

January 23, 2013

Obama begins second term with new faces, changing leadership in key global health positions

Communications Officer
GHTC

President Obama officially began his second term in office this week, and will have a host of new faces to work with in Congress and his own administration. Below, we provide a roundup of some of the most critical leadership changes that could affect funding and policies for global health and international development programs.

Secretary of State: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to be the next secretary of state today. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will oversee the hearing, as Kerry is the current chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. The Rethinking Foreign Assistance blog offers four questions to look for during Kerry’s confirmation hearing, including how he would work to ensure that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the premier development agency in the world, and what the new Office of Global Health Diplomacy would focus on during his tenure.

President Obama officially began his second term in office this week, and will have a host of new faces to work with in Congress and his own administration.
President Obama officially began his second term in office this week, and will have a host of new faces to work with in Congress and his own administration.

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is the new ranking member. The committee oversees legislation that impacts international development and global health efforts, including bills that affect funding and policy priorities at USAID. According to Science Speaks, Engel is a “global health champion” who succeeds former ranking member Howard Berman (D-CA), who lost his re-election bid in November. Royce “brings a mixed record on global health support to the post, having voted yes to the original Leadership Act that authorized the $15 billion President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, but then voting against reauthorization of PEPFAR in 2008, as the global AIDS response prepared for a transition from emergency to sustainable humanitarian response.”

Following a closed-door meeting last week, Engel said, "The Democratic members of the Foreign Affairs Committee represent a wide range of views and experiences, and we will work together to help ensure that US foreign policy best serves our national interests." Other Democrats new to the committee include Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) for the subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights, and international organizations; Rep. William Keating (D-MA) for the subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and emerging threats; Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-Samoa) for the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; and Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) for the subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees: Several new leaders have joined the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee, which are tasked with overseeing a “likely dwindling pool of federal dollars” across the US government. According to Science Speaks, both committees are now chaired by senators who hail “from two states that serve as headquarters to global health agenda setters.” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the first woman to head the Senate Appropriations Committee. She represents Maryland, the home to the National Institutes of Health, and has been “lauded for her strong support for medical research and public health.” Sen. Richard Shelby (R- AL) is the new lead Republican on the committee. Shelby was one of eight senators to vote against the “fiscal cliff” deal, but has steadily supported PEPFAR.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)—whose state is home to global health groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, the Infectious Disease Research Institute, PATH, Seattle BioMed, and the Washington Global Health Alliance—now heads the Senate Budget Committee. She has been recognized for her support of issues that include health and women’s equity. As co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Murray called on organizations to submit letters in support of the International Affairs budget.

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