TACOMA, Washington — On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a new COVID-19 relief package that includes $4 billion in emergency funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance—a critical first step in the global response to COVID-19. This funding is vital to help get COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s poor.
Advocating for Global COVID-19 Relief
In recent months, it was uncertain whether Congress would earmark any funding at all for international development in this final emergency COVID-19 bill.
However, Borgen Project volunteers kept the momentum going, mobilizing more than 65,000 emails to Congress in support of global COVID-19 relief funding. They also attended hundreds of meetings with their Congressional leaders to ensure that the U.S. government included these provisions in its pandemic response.
Fighting Against Cuts to Foreign Aid
At the same time that this emergency package was approved, Congress also reaffirmed its commitment to fully fund the State/Foreign Operations budget, once again rejecting dangerous proposed cuts by the current administration. In a bipartisan effort, $62.7 billion was allocated to the International Affairs Budget, an increase in funding of almost 1.5% compared to the previous year. Funding for the International Affairs Budget included $49.9 billion in base funding, $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, and $5.3 billion in emergency funds.
The funding for essential life-saving programs include:
- $950 million for basic education (a $75 million increase)
- $855.5 million for maternal and child health (a $4.5 million increase). This funding also includes an additional planned $290 million for Gavi, prior to the approval of the emergency $4 billion.
- $150 million for USAID global nutrition
- $319 million to fight tuberculosis (a $9 million increase)
- $1.56 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Looking Ahead to the 117th Congress
While we celebrate these victories, more work remains to address the gaps in funding, especially as 121 million people globally are at risk of starvation due to the secondary socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.
The 117th Congress commences on January 3, 2021, and it is vital, now more than ever, to prioritize funding for the global COVID-19 response and provide relief to the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through the bills supported by The Borgen Project, we can alleviate global poverty while protecting the health and national security interests of Americans.
– Kim Thelwell