After a three-month delay, Congress passed and the President signed on January 17th a trillion dollar omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 3547 ) to fund the federal government during fiscal year 2014. In what passes for good news these days, funding for international family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs remains stable and no new policy restrictions were imposed.
Total bilateral and multilateral funding for international FP/RH programs in the omnibus bill equals $610 million, including a statutory earmark of “not less than” $575 million from all bilateral accounts and an additional $35 million for a U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The final appropriated level is four percent less than the President’s FY 2014 budget request of $635.4 million and nearly nine percent less than the Senate level of $669.5 million, but 32 percent ($149 million) more than the draconian cuts proposed by House Republican appropriators, which included zeroing-out funding for UNFPA.
On the policy front, House and Senate negotiators ended up dropping all new proposals for changes in FP/RH policy—whether positive or negative—in their widely divergent versions of the foreign assistance bill, as expected.
- Global Gag Rule/Mexico City Policy: no legislative language either imposing (House) or preventing the reinstatement (Senate) of this executive branch policy;
- UNFPA: longstanding restrictions on the U.S. contribution retained including requirements that UNFPA maintain U.S. funds in a segregated account, none of which may be used in China or for abortion, and mandates a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount provided to UNFPA by a sum identical to that spent by UNFPA in China; and
- Abortion-related restrictions and informed consent and referral protections: no change to boilerplate provisions.
U.S. leadership in global efforts to address the unmet need for modern contraception for 222 million women in the developing world remains as crucial as ever, both on financial assistance and technical and programmatic innovation. Preserving the status quo is not good enough.
For more details on the omnibus, including a comparison with FY2013 funding levels, read the full Washington Memo.
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