Worth the Wait: President’s FY 2015 Budget Request for Family Planning and Reproductive Health

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Late in the day on Friday, the Obama Administration released their complete budget request for foreign assistance for fiscal year 2015, including for international family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs. Although arriving six weeks after the initial release of the President’s federal budget on March 4, the release of the full details of the request was worth the wait. Women’s reproductive health advocates are heartened to see an increase in the size of the President’s request for FP/RH programs—now that we finally know what is in the budget in its entirety.

The total bilateral and multilateral request for international FP/RH for FY 2015 is $644.3 million, including $538 million in the Global Health Programs account, $71 million in Economic Support Funds, and $35.3 million for a U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund from the International Organizations & Programs account.

The President’s FY 2015 request is $34.3 million—or nearly 6 percent—higher than the current appropriated level, enacted as part of an omnibus spending bill in mid-January. It is also an increase of nearly $9 million more than the President proposed last year, an important symbol of the priority attached to FP/RH programs by the administration at a time of increasing budgetary pressures.

Nevertheless, the President’s budget proposal remains lower than the $669.5 million approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in FY 2014—a level of funding endorsed by 124 House members and 24 Senators in letters to their respective Appropriations Committee colleagues earlier this month. The request also falls far short of the $1 billion that is the U.S. fair share of total global expenditures required to address the unmet need of 222 million women in the developing world who would like to prevent pregnancy but lack modern contraception.

Now that a complete accounting of the budget request has been issued, congressional appropriators will have the responsibility over the next several months of deciding whether to prioritize the expressed needs of women in developing countries or continue to underfund the critical health programs that seek to satisfy those women’s aspirations for a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The following table provides details on the President’s budget request in comparison to prior year appropriations and requests:

 (In millions of dollars)

FY 2014 President’s Budget Request

FY 2014 enacted

FY 2015 President’s Budget Request

Global Health Programs (GHP)

534.0

(523.95)

538.0

Economic Support Fund (ESF)

63.4

71.0

Other bilateral

1.0

n/a

n/a

Total, bilateral FP/RH

598.4

575.0

609.0

U.S. Contribution to UNFPA (IO&P)

37.0

35.0

35.3

TOTAL, bilateral & mulilateral FP/RH

635.4

610.0

644.3