May 20, 2012

UPDATE: House Appropriations Committee approves SFOPs legislation

Policy and Advocacy Officer

Late last week, the House Appropriations Committee debated and approved Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 appropriations legislation for the State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) account, which includes funding levels for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The bill that the SFOPs subcommittee previously approved—which we discussed here—went largely unchanged in the full appropriations committee vote.

As we covered last week, global health funding under USAID was restored to FY 2012 levels for most accounts. However, USAID’s family planning and reproductive health efforts were capped at 25 percent below the FY 2012 level, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was completely de-funded. Three separate efforts during the appropriations committee markup on Thursday to restore some funds to UNFPA failed. These cuts have been criticized by many in the global health community and on the Hill as harmful, short-sighted, and life-threatening to women worldwide.

During the hearing, there were no amendments related to global health research and development (R&D) programs, although language in the report that accompanies the House bill highlights the need for research into health technologies appropriate for low-resource settings. Additional language in the accompanying report promotes R&D for microbicides, and HIV and malaria vaccines, among other health tools.

The Senate will weigh in with its own (and likely very different) version of this legislation tomorrow, May 22nd. We hope that the Senate also recognizes the importance of USAID’s R&D efforts, and that it restores the agency’s family planning and reproductive health work. Congressional support for all areas of USAID’s global health programming—from R&D to women’s health—is critical to improve the health and well-being of people around the world.