Cantwell, Colleagues Urge Appropriations Committee to Prioritize International Family Planning Programs in Upcoming Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Last week, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a group of her colleagues in urging leadership of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee to prioritize federal support for international family programs in the subcommittee’s upcoming spending bill for Fiscal Year 2019.

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 FY2019 bill. They also requested that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) be restored to previous funding levels.

“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,” the senators wrote. “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 requested that the committee should continue to support the 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 as the decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund. The letter 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.

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.

In addition to Senator Cantwell, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), 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-NM), 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) also signed the letter.

The full text of the letter is available HERE.