Congress’ Global Health Agenda for 2013

US Congress

Sally Cowal, Senior Vice President & Chief Liaison Officer, PSI

As we celebrate last week’s inauguration and the 113th Congress’ first few weeks in session, I naturally reflect on the last couple of years. The 112th Congress was full of intense debates, a consuming election and suitably ended with a dramatic, last-minute deal on the fiscal cliff. Thankfully, global health retained strong bipartisan support during even the gravest times of political and economic uncertainty. Looking forward, PSI is encouraged by this new Congress’ potential support of global health programs.

The 113th Congress has an incredible opportunity to expand the global health progress of its predecessors. Each congressional member is in a uniquely powerful position to shape the health, and, ultimately, the future of millions of people globally. With Washington increasingly under attack, the 113th has a chance to show the American people how U.S. foreign assistance saves lives with efficient, transparent and cost-effective solutions.

Remembering Congressman Donald Payne

We are saddened by the passing of New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne. Since becoming New Jersey’s first African American member in congress in 1970, Congressman Payne worked tirelessly for his community and people around the world. Specifically, Congressman Payne was a global health champion who emerged as one of the leaders in Washington to raise awareness and enact legislation that fought AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. From Voice of America:

While in the House of Representatives, Payne was known as a de facto ambassador to Africa. He helped secure $100 million to help prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Darius Mans, president of Africare in Washington, called Payne a committed legislator who cared dearly about the plight of Africans.

“Whenever you needed something done on Africa he did not delegate it, he made sure it happened. Whether it took phone calls to the White House, rallying members of Congress Donald Payne always delivered for Africa.”

Congressman Payne was a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where he served as chair and ranking member of the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee. In addition he helped to found, and co-chair with Rep. Fortenberry, the House Malaria and NTDs caucus. His biography states:

On the global health front, he co-founded the Malaria Caucus which was launched at an event with former First Lady Laura Bush. He successfully secured $50 million for prevention, control and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Rep. Payne also helped secure passage of a bill authorizing $50 billion for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria under the historic PEPFAR program, which assists individuals primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The global health community lost a true ally in the movement to reduce the burden of disease on the world’s poor.

PSI extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Congressman Payne.