“[T]he House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) [on Wednesday] approved the FY 2013 Foreign Relations Authorization Act [.pdf] that it hopes will be the first authorizing bill to pass Congress in a decade,” Casey Dunning of the Center for Global Development (CGD) writes in this post in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog. “The bill aims to provide direction and guidance to appropriators and the administration as they fund and execute U.S. foreign affairs,” however, “[i]n an effort to pass an authorizing bill, the committee decided to completely excise the assistance part of its portfolio — 65 percent of the international affairs budget! — and authorize only State Department operations (aka, the other 35 percent),” she notes. Dunning concludes, “In keeping the focus solely on State Department mechanics and FY 2012 funding levels this year, they were able to avoid contentious debates on issues like aid to Pakistan and funding family planning, muster bipartisan support, and move the bill forward, sans a foreign assistance section. But it means they also avoid an opportunity to influence U.S. foreign aid” (6/28).
US Global Health Policy
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the Water for the World Act (S 641) to the Senate for a floor vote, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to vote on a companion bill, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 (HR 3658), PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog notes, adding that “a coalition of CEOs of NGOs have published an open letter [.pdf] encouraging the House Foreign Affairs Committee to allow the bill to be voted upon in the House floor” (6/28). The letter states, “HR 3658, like its companion S 641, has strong bipartisan support, does not seek new funds, and builds on decades of successful USâ€led programs to make even better use of existing resources. This is the year to ensure that the bill becomes law,” and continues, “Because it builds on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, the Water for the World Act of 2012 is a costâ€free approach to benefiting families, communities, and even the global economy.” The letter concludes by asking members of Congress to co-sponsor the House bill and urge the House committee to pass it (6/20).
“The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a $16.2 billion State Department authorization bill [.pdf] after reaching bipartisan consensus,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports, adding, “The bill passed by voice vote in under a minute, in stark contrast with last year’s record 30-hour markup where Democrats and Republicans battled on everything from funding for abortion providers to aid to Pakistan” (Pecquet, 6/27). The FY13 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 6018) “authorizes FY13 appropriations for the State Department and a few other International Affairs programs at largely current (FY12) funding levels, a very positive development in the current budget environment,” according to a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition budget update (Lester, 6/27). The hearing’s opening statement from Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and a summary of the bill are available online (6/27).
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Kelly Hauser, agriculture policy manager at ONE, writes that an amendment to the U.S. farm bill “could save money and lives in Africa.” “The farm bill is an unwieldy five-year bill dedicated to shaping the U.S. government’s policies and spending on energy, farm subsidies, food stamps, conservation policies, and international agricultural trade, which includes the largest donor food aid program in the world, known as ‘Food for Peace,'” she writes, adding, “By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, Congress has the opportunity to make changes to the farm bill that would allow U.S. food assistance to reach six million more people with the same amount of funding.”
Congressman 'Dissatisfied' With Handling Of Controversial H5N1 Papers Calls For Cohesive Policy For Handling 'Risky' Research
“[D]issatisfied with the government’s handling of two research papers on mutant forms of avian influenza,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) on Wednesday “said that the lack of a cohesive policy for handling risky research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies could necessitate new laws, a situation that researchers have been trying to avoid,” the Nature News Blog reports. “The second of the controversial papers showing that H5N1, or ‘bird flu,’ can spread through the air between mammals was published last week, providing some closure to the months-long debate about the work and whether its publication would result in the proliferation of dangerous viruses and increased risk of an accidental or intentional release,” the blog writes, adding, “Sensenbrenner says not enough work has been done to ensure that such controversies don’t arise again.”
The New York Times Magazine profiles U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her tenure at the State Department. The article begins by describing a partnership she announced in September 2010 with the U.N. Foundation “to provide 100 million cleaner and more efficient stoves around the world by 2020,” and writes that “she has since used every opportunity to implore world leaders to adopt policies to encourage their use.” The article continues, “After three and a half years in office, though, her greatest legacy has been the remaking of American diplomacy in her own fashion, shaped as much by her own personality and fame as by a guiding philosophy.” When asked what she plans to do in retirement, she said “[s]he intends to write another book and to pursue philanthropy, championing women and girls, as ever,” the article states (Myers, 6/27).
“The Child Survival Call to Action shows the U.S. government navigating a new approach to global health and development,” Nellie Bristol, global health research fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), and Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, write in a post on the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. The summit and its Global Roadmap (.pdf) “illustrate the new approach to foreign aid: collaboration and partnerships, country leadership instead of donor dictates and integration of services instead of a disease specific focus,” the authors write, adding, “They also highlight other new realities in the development arena in that they promise little additional funding and put the onus on the countries themselves to ensure progress.” They conclude, “How momentum from the Call to Action will lead to changes to U.S. global health efforts remains to be seen” (6/26).
In this post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby reflects on his speech at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday in anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. from July 22-27. Noting he discussed “some of the lessons learned from the first decade of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that can inform future efforts on AIDS and global health,” he writes, “The last 10 years have taught us what must be done to end this epidemic and achieve an AIDS-free generation, and I have great hope that we will get it done. This is the moment to seize this hope, and together we will turn the tide” (6/26).
In a media note, the State Department and USAID announce that “USAID’s foreign assistance obligation and expenditure data is now available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard (www.foreignassistance.gov).” According to the note, “The Foreign Assistance Dashboard serves as a tool for users to understand the impact of U.S. foreign assistance funding by country, sector, initiative, and agency in an easy-to-understand format. The site provides a visual presentation of foreign assistance data in a standard and user-friendly way, and has become the U.S. Government’s main tool for improving foreign aid transparency.” Data in the tool is from fiscal years 2009 through 2011 and will be updated regularly, the media note states (6/25).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, editor Amie Newman, a communications officer at the foundation, highlights the work of “two HIV home-visit health workers who work with the CDC Kenya (Centers for Disease Control) to visit with a family in a remote area in the Nyanza province.” According to the blog, the “center is responsible for most of what goes on when it comes to researching HIV/AIDS in this country: what prevention and treatment methods work, monitoring the number of new HIV/AIDS cases, the number of births, deaths, implementing those treatment and prevention methods (including voluntary medical male circumcision, distribution of condoms, medicine for treatment), and maternal and newborn health issues which are directly connected to HIV (like prevention of mother-to-child transmission)” (6/25).