Bipartisan group in Congress urges US to increase Global Fund contribution

This piece originally appeared on Devex. For the original publication, click here.

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of members of Congress sent a letter to the Trump administration Thursday asking for an increase in the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Global Fund announced earlier this month that it needs to raise $14 billion in its sixth replenishment, happening this year.

The letter, an effort led by Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California and Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, was signed by 137 members of Congress and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It said that the Global Fund has had broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, which has been consistent because it has “demonstrated concrete progress in saving lives.”

The number of deaths caused by aids, TB, and malaria each year have been reduced by a third since 2002 in the countries where the Global Fund invests, according to the letter. Its focus on results, efficiency and transparency has also meant that the Global Fund has received high marks in multilateral aid reviews, the letter said.

“Given the Global Fund’s impressive results and the continuing, urgent priority to save lives and end three of the major infectious disease killers in the world, we believe the United States should make a 6th Replenishment pledge for 2020-2022 that exceeds the last Replenishment,” the letter reads.

This letter comes a few months after a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, sent a similar letter to Pompeo also calling for an increase in U.S. funding for the current replenishment.

The letters don’t include a specific funding request, in part because they were drafted before the Global Fund released its request, said Chris Collins, president of Friends of the Global Fight, an organization that advocates for U.S. investment in the Global Fund. The U.S. should contribute about $4.8 billion to the replenishment — $1.6 billion a year for three years, he said.

The U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, which by law can only be a third of the organization’s funding, is seen as a bellwether of sorts and has often spurred other contributions. What the U.S. will decide to do, is therefore key to the Global Fund’s ability to raise the funds it needs in this replenishment cycle.

“We are hoping for a bold pledge from the administration,” Collins said, but whether or not that happens, Congress has an important role to play. “It is certainly possible it will take congressional leadership this year to demonstrate ongoing American leadership on Global Fund funding.”