As a global citizen, I’m sure that you understand how valuable foreign assistance is for international development. Here in the US, for example, foreign assistance supports programs like global health and education that not only empower people living in extreme poverty, but also protect us here at home.

Recently, the  US House Appropriations Committee approved the State, Foreign Operations bill for fiscal year 2016.

So, what does that mean?

Let’s start with the basics. The State and Foreign Operations subcommittee is responsible for setting the priorities of the United States Government around foreign assistance. Each year, they produce a bill that identifies how much money will be spent on each core priority.

  • Vaccines & Immunizations

Back in January, the United States Government pledged $1 billion to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance over 4 years. Now, we just need to be sure that congress sets aside the funding needed to meet that pledge. Fortunately, the Committee recommended funding the US contribution to Gavi at $235 million, meeting our budget request!

On June 3, Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) made reference to Gavi, noting: “The Subcommittee remains committed to programs that save lives and can have the most impact. We focus on diseases such as polio, malaria and HIV, and on reducing the number of children who die before age 5 by increasing funds for early vaccinations.” Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-New York) noted: “We also reaffirm our commitment to global health investments including nutrition, maternal and child health, programs to combat tuberculosis, malaria, and pandemic threats, as well as PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and [Gavi].”

Broadly speaking, the Global Health account is funded at the same level provided in fiscal year 2015, which is $273 million above the request submitted by President Barack Obama.

  • Basic Education

Funding for basic education is set at $800m with funding for the Global Partnership for Education set at $70m for fiscal year 2016. This is $20m higher than the House of Representatives requested last year. If this figure is approved by the Senate, it will represent a funding increase of $35m to the Global Partnership for Education since fiscal year 2015!

This funding increase to the Global Partnership for Education is another step closer to the United States reaching its fair share pledge of $125m annually. We’re going to keep campaigning until we hit this benchmark.

  • Water and Sanitation

Funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene programs through the Water for the Poor Act was set at $382.5m which is a flat line from the funding levels in fiscal year 2015.

We’re working really closely with key members of the Senate who have been leading the charge to increase funding for water and sanitation in the Senate. Our congressional briefing, Increasing Access to Improved Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, hosted in partnership with United Nations Foundation, helped to highlight the importance of this issue and call on the Senate to increase funding for vital sanitation programs.

And, what is next?

Next, the bill will go to the floor of the House of Representatives for approval. This should happen before the end of June.

We anticipate that the Senate Appropriations Committee will take up its bill for fiscal year 2016 State, Foreign Operations bill in July. In the meantime, it is important that global citizens continue to call on elected leaders to support these important programs.

You can get involved now by signing the petition to call for increased funding for water and sanitation in TAKE ACTION NOW below.

Thanks to our friends at Influence Graphics for their support of the congressional briefing: Increasing Access to Improved Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene! 


Defeat Poverty

So, how is the United States going to spend foreign assistance funds next year?

By Judith Rowland