President Donald Trump has sent lawmakers a sweeping package of spending cuts to consider before he leaves office, including billions in funding for a global health and vaccine distribution program involved in the Covid fight, according to the package obtained by POLITICO.
The $27.4 billion in proposed cuts is known as a rescission request — a largely symbolic package of spending claw-backs that the White House presents to Congress. There is no chance that Congress actually acts on the request. But the inclusion of $4 billion in funding for GAVI, a public-private partnership promoting vaccination in low-income countries, will likely fuel more criticism of the president’s approach to global health efforts in general and the Covid pandemic in particular.
GAVI has, among other things, worked to distribute Covid vaccine doses internationally in partnership with government and philanthropic entities. In the rescission request language, the administration argued that the funding for GAVI was coming at the cost of prioritizing vaccination efforts domestically, though Congress can and has budgeted for both.
“The $4 billion in funding designated as an emergency requirement would provide U.S. funds to support international vaccination efforts well in advance of clearly stated U.S. policy to vaccinate at-risk populations within the United States before supporting international vaccination,” the language reads.
The total rescission package targets a swath of federal departments, smaller agencies and foreign aid programs, hitting pots of funding that enjoy broad bipartisan support. Among other items, it would nix:
— $1.5 billion for emergency overseas food aid
— Billions for scientific research, including $2 billion for the research and development of renewable energy and energy efficient technology
— More than $2 billion for AIDS relief
— More than $1 billion to assist refugees and victims of conflict worldwide
— $291 million to programs that promote democracy worldwide
— $241 million in economic support for countries across the globe
— $500 million in foreign military assistance
— $12.3 million for research on firearm mortality and injury prevention
— $13 million for the National Institutes of Health
— $430 million for cultural exchange programs
— $181 million for climate research programs at NOAA
— Hundreds of millions in federal student aid