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House Appropriations Committee Slashes Support for International Family Planning

June 11, 2015

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill for FY 2016 that severely reduces the international family planning budget and includes provisions that will have far-reaching negative effects on reproductive health programs. Touted by Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) as “first and foremost a national security bill”, the $47.8 billion bill includes funding for counterterrorism efforts, humanitarian relief, and global health initiatives like Global Fund,  UNICEF, and Maternal and Child Health. The Committee approved $461 million for family planning and reproductive health program, a cut of $150 million from last year’s funding level. The Committee bill also eliminates all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and reinstates the Global Gag Rule, which bars US foreign assistance to family planning providers who use their own funds to provide abortion services, provide counseling on abortion as an option, or advocate for abortion rights.

The three pro-reproductive rights amendments offered by Democrats were defeated. Ranking Member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced an amendment containing language from the Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA) that would permanently strike the Global Gag Rule and prohibit its future reinstatement by executive action. The Lowey amendment also would have restored $35 million in funding for UNFPA, while maintaining the current restrictions on UNFPA funding. The Lowey amendment was voted down 22 to 29, with only one Republican, Representative Charles Dent (R-PA), joining the Democrats in supporting the amendment.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) proposed an amendment that would have eliminated the $461 million cap on funding for international family planning programs. The measure was rejected along party lines, by a vote of 21 to 30.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s (D-CT) sought, unsuccessfully, to lift the ban on funding to UNFPA.  Her proposed amendment would have allocated $35 million for family planning and reproductive healthcare, including obstetric fistula prevention and treatment. The amendment failed on a voice vote.

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