Shaheen, Murphy Lead Effort Urging State, Foreign Operations & Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee to Prioritize Family Planning in Upcoming Spending Bill

May 02, 2018

(Washington, DC) – Last week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) led a group of Senators, urging leadership of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee to prioritize federal support for international family planning programs in the subcommittee’s upcoming spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.  Shaheen and Murphy are both members of the Senate Appropriations and Foreign Relations Committees. 

The Senators requested that the subcommittee leadership ensure international family planning and reproductive health programs receive adequate funding and maintain spending levels at no less than $622.5 million in the FY 2019 bill, and that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) be restored to previous funding levels. The Senators wrote, “We are alarmed by the President’s FY 2019 budget which proposes a 30% cut to the international affairs budget, including a 50% reduction in international family planning and reproductive health programs. As you know, funding for international affairs makes up less than one percent of the federal budget. Investments in development and diplomacy – including support for humanitarian programs, democracy and governance, disaster assistance, and global health – are the foundation for building a more peaceful, prosperous, and healthy world.”

The letter also highlighted that in addition to adequate funding for international family planning programs, the committee should also continue to support evidence-based policies that are instrumental in promoting successful global health and development programs. This includes opposing dangerous and ill-conceived policies instituted by the Trump administration, such as the expansion of the Mexico City Policy on global health assistance, as well the decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund. The Senators underscored the critical role of the UNFPA, which is the largest multilateral provider of family planning and reproductive health services, and works in more than 150 countries around the world, often where the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) does not operate family planning or reproductive health programs.

The Senators continued, “As a global health leader, our nation’s investment in international family planning and reproductive health continues to have a significant and sustained impact. In FY 2017 U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance made it possible for 25 million women to receive contraceptive services, as well as prevented 7.4 million unintended pregnancies and 3.1 million abortions, the majority of which are provided in unsafe conditions. Furthermore, providing access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services strengthens our efforts to end preventable maternal and child deaths, reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and combat gender-based violence. It also supports our broader development goals, including women’s increased access to education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as creating a healthier, more sustainable environment.”

In closing, the Senators urged the committee to consider and prioritize the health and safety of the millions of women and girls around the world who benefit from these critical international aid programs.

Senator Shaheen is the lead Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development. Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for women and girls around the world and has prioritized issues that raise women up, such as advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end violence against women, securing women leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations and authoring legislation to address barriers that girls around the world face in accessing education.

Senator Murphy is the author of “Rethinking the Battlefield,” a comprehensive proposal containing specific recommendations to dramatically increase the United States’ non-military footprint abroad by nearly doubling the U.S. foreign affairs budget – including the State Department and USAID – with an emphasis on funding for international development and humanitarian relief. He is a cosponsor of the International Violence Against Women Act and helped pass the READ Act – legislation to help 263 million children around the world, including more than 130 million girls, gain access to education. Murphy has also called for bipartisan support of increased funding for international family planning, and joined Shaheen and other senators in calling for funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which is the largest provider of family planning and reproductive health services.

The letter was also signed by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

The letter can be read in full here.