Washington, DC Update

Posted 13 July 2021

ASTMH continues to advocate before Congress and the Biden administration. Letters that ASTMH led or joined include:
  • Testimony submitted by ASTMH to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee regarding FY22 funding for USAID global health programs, particularly the NTD program and PMI. The testimony also touched on programs of interest at the State Department.
  • A letter led by the American Institute of Physics Community to Dr. Eric Lander congratulating him on his confirmation to the position of Director of OSTP. The letter also makes clear that the signatories are ready to support and be engaged in improvements to the scientific enterprise during this Administration.
  • A letter from the IDSA, Pew Charitable Trusts, BIO and the Partnership to Fight Infectious Diseases urging the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to address AMR and include the Pioneering Antibiotic Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act in pandemic preparedness legislation.

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House Appropriations Committee Adopts Fiscal Year 2022 State and Foreign Operations Bill
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Introduces Pandemic Preparedness Legislation
WHO Essential Medicines Update
House Passes Global Health Security Act
Cures Act 2.0 Draft Released includes ARPA-H creation
June G7 Summit Short on Details 

House Appropriations Committee Adopts Fiscal Year 2022 State and Foreign Operations Bill
On July 1, the House Appropriations Committee gave initial approval on a party-line vote to fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding for State Department, USAID, and related programs. The bill would increase funding for global health at the State Department and USAID by $1.445 billion, which is 15.7% over the FY21 enacted amount and a substantial $590.5 million higher than the president’s FY22 request. Given the political divide in Congress, it’s highly unlikely these will be the final numbers. Other highlights include (increases vs. FY21 in parentheses, courtesy of Global Health Technologies Coalition):
  • USAID
    • Tuberculosis: +$150 million (47 percent)
    • Malaria: +$50 million (6.5 percent)
    • Neglected Tropical Diseases: +$10 million (9.76 percent)
    • Global Health Security: +$810 million (426.32 percent)
  • State Department
  • President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): + $150 million (3.43 percent)
 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Introduces Pandemic Preparedness Legislation
Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) have introduced
S. 2297, the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021. The bill authorizes U.S. participation in CEPI and $5 billion in bilateral and multilateral health security funding over the next five years. It would also establish an interagency pandemic response structure.
 
WHO Essential Medicines Update
The WHO will hear back soon from an expert committee on incorporating 40 new medications on the Essential Medicines List. Surprisingly, there are no COVID-19 drugs included and few that treat infectious diseases. The update is expected to discourage the use of antibiotics to treat mild illness in an effort to slow antimicrobial resistance.
 
House Passes Global Health Security Act
The House passed H.R. 391, the Global Health Security Act, on a 307-112 vote on June 28. The bill would make permanent global health security staff at the White House and officially establish a global health security coordinator position on the National Security Council.
 
Cures Act 2.0 Draft Released includes ARPA-H creation
Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) released initial text of their follow-up bill to the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016. The bill would authorize creation of President Biden’s proposed ARPA-H within the NIH and includes the text of the PASTEUR Act and its AMR provisions. Reps. DeGette and Upton hope to finalize the text after incorporating feedback in August.

June G7 Summit Short on Details 
The G7 summit hosted by the United Kingdom concluded without detailed plans to boost the worldwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign. On general pandemic preparedness, the G7 nations agreed to “explore options for building consensus this year, around sustainable global health and health security financing, supported by robust financial reporting, increased and defined accountability, and oversight.”