The House and Senate have both passed the FY2010 omnibus, which is a legislative package funding six different bills for FY 2010 – Commerce, Justice & Science; Financial Services; Labor, Health and Education; Military Construction and Veterans Administration; State Department and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Several policy victories and funding increases are included and expected to be signed into law.
On the policy front, the long-standing prohibition on Washington DC’s use of locally-raised (non-federal) funds to provide abortion services to low-income women was lifted. The 22-year-old ban on federal funding of needle exchange for disease prevention in the United States has been removed. As a result, we now expect the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator to revise PEPFAR guidance and allow funding for needle exchange HIV prevention programs overseas.
In terms of funding, there is good news – though even with the increases we’ll see, these new funding levels still fall short of adequately funding these programs.
For international family planning efforts, $648.5 million was appropriated, which is a 19% increase from last year and includes $55 million for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. For international maternal and child health, $549 million was appropriated, which is a $54 million increase from the $495 million that was provided for maternal and child health in FY2009. International HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs received $5.709 billion, which is $200 million more than what was allocated last year. In addition to the $5.709 billion, another $1.05 billion will go to programs through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Domestic sexual and reproductive health programs received funding increases this year – in recognition of the key role they play in individuals’ lives particularly in challenging economic times. The Title X program for US reproductive health services got a $10 million increase to $317.5 million – progress, but far short of where the national needs are. The new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, which will replace failed abstinence-only education, received $114 million. Yes, you read correctly, all federally-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have been eliminated!
So why the sideways thumb? Because Congress failed to follow the President’s lead to permanently reverse the global gag rule and to lift the ban on abortion coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, something the President’s budget had done