Washington, DC Update

Posted 11 April 2019

ASTMH continues to play an active role in advocacy efforts supporting U.S. global health funding. ASTMH signed on to three letters organized by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) that urge House appropriators to sustain and protect global health R&D funding. 

On April 9, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced the Global Health Security Act. The bill would seek to authorize a comprehensive, strategic approach for United States foreign assistance to developing countries to strengthen global health security. The Global Health Security Act seeks to address two main issues: 1) that U.S. global health security staffing and activities are largely reliant on an executive order and not specifically supported in law, and 2) that the U.S. needs a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating the interagency response to a global health security emergency. ASTMH supports this bill. 

Regarding the FY 2020 budget and appropriations process, the Appropriations Committees and the Budget Committees have initiated the legislative end of the budget process. House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said that she is aiming to start marking up FY 2020 bills once Congress returns from its two-week recess on April 29. Senate Appropriators have not indicated when they will begin marking up bills. 

FY 2020 (and FY 2021) are currently operating under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA, also known as sequestration) that will – unless the budget caps are adjusted – cut non-defense funding by 12 percent compared with FY 2019. Congress is in the process of raising the budget caps, though the House and Senate continue to work through the budget process. A House Budget Committee bill plans to raise defense and non-defense discretionary spending by $88 billion each for FY 2020. Though the bill was not agreed to, House appropriators are developing their spending levels as if the bill had passed. 

The Trump Administration nominated Brett Giroir, MD, to be the U.S. Representative to the Executive Board of the WHO. Dr. Giroir currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Health in HHS.  He has worked extensively on defense health and infectious disease preparedness.