Monday, July 13, 2009

Senate Appropriations Committee Increases 2010 Funding for Global Health Programmes

Last Thursday the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $48.69 billion draft bill to fund the State Department and foreign affairs activities for this 2010 fiscal year. With a final vote of 29-1, Senator Leahy explains how "this bipartisan bill goes a long way to emphasize the importance of enhancing the capacity of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to carry out diplomacy and development programmes in areas of critical importance to the United States."

Of the $48.69 billion allotted, global health programs will receive $7.8 billion for their continued efforts. This amount is not only $434 million above the 2009 fiscal year request, but also $178 million above this years request, emphasizing a realization of the need for substantial funding in order to continue and improve efforts to address issues of global health. Within the $7.8 billion budget, $555 million will be allotted to child survival and maternal health, $628.5 million for family planning and reproductive health programmes, which includes an allocation of $50 Million for the UN Population Fund, $5.709 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, and an additional $700 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In addition to increased funding for family planning, the Senate Appropriations Committee went a step further and adopted an amendment proposed by Rep. Frank Lautenberg, D- New Jersey, which "would make permanent Obama's decision earlier this year to revoke a policy prohibiting U.S. aid to overseas organizations that promote or perform abortions." Under George Bush, U.S. taxpayer money, in the form of family planning funding, was banned from going to any international family planning groups that either performed abortions, or offered any sort of information, counseling or referrals which supported abortion. Also known as the "Mexico City Policy" or the "Global Gag Rule" this policy was introduced by the Reagan administration in 1984, overturned by President Clinton in 1993, restored by President Bush in 2001, and most recently overturned by President Obama earlier this year. By agreeing upon this new amendment, further administrations would be forced to accept the most recent stance adopted by President Obama, and must continue to allow funding for family planning organizations that promote abortions, regardless of any future leader's opinion on this issue.

To read more about the Senate Appropriations Committee's funding breakdown, you can access their FY 2010 Department of State Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations summary at:

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