Search the GHTC website

Months of tense congressional negotiations stretching nearly six months over schedule finally concluded with the signing of a FY24 spending package in the same month President Joe Biden released his budget proposal for FY25. GHTC breaks down what this all means for global health R&D.

March 28, 2024 by Alex Long & Adey Fentaw

Nearly six months into fiscal year 2024 (FY24), the US government has finally agreed upon a budget for the remaining six months. Nevertheless, March brings with it a new appropriations cycle forcibly run in parallel with the last. With the release of the President’s Budget Request (PBR) for fiscal year 2025 (FY25) and ongoing meetings with appropriations staff, the prospects for future US spending on global health research and development (R&D) are coming into focus, with both good and bad on the horizon.

FY24 spending package: A mixed bag for global health R&D 

This year’s appropriations process was certainly one for the history books in that it was historically difficult—largely due to partisan divisions and threats to the House speakership. But on March 22, moments before a partial government shutdown was set to go into effect, a six-bill “minibus” was voted through by the House of Representatives and the Senate and later signed into law, which will keep the government operational until September 30. 

This second spending package included funding bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS); State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS); and Defense, which are a mixed bag for funding for global health R&D.


The LHHS bill, which covers funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), included some welcome increases to agencies and programs that support global health research alongside overall stagnant funding.

Out of the three agencies, BARDA, which focuses on the R&D of countermeasures against emerging health threats, received the largest increase in funding with a $65 million (6.8 percent) boost over fiscal year 2023 (FY23) levels, bringing its total budget to $1.015 billion. The CDC, America’s lead public health agency, and NIH, the primary agency responsible for biomedical health research, witnessed marginal adjustments, with their budget lines most relevant to global health R&D remaining largely static. Notably, CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) received a $9.5 million (1.27 percent) boost, which will help bolster crucial surveillance initiatives such as the Advanced Molecular Detection program.  

Additionally, the minibus also included complimentary directives, known as report language, which were championed by GHTC, that reinforce the importance of global health and neglected disease research taking place at CDC and NIH. It also included important language encouraging BARDA to consider the needs of people living in low-resource settings in its R&D funding decisions and directing the agency to provide more transparent and regular reporting on its investments and allocate at least $10 million of its budget to create a new Disease X medical countermeasures program to develop tools against viral families with pandemic potential.


The SFOPS bill covers global health work undertaken by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of State (State). Unfortunately, the FY24 spending package included a significant cut of $530.95 million (5.3 percent) to State and USAID global health programs.

Much of this reduction is due to a decrease in funding by $350 million for the US contribution to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which fell from $2 billion in FY23 to $1.65 billion in FY24. While this is a large cut, it was both expected and supported by advocates, given that US law caps the maximum contribution that the United States can make to the fund relative to the contributions of other donors. Thus, the “cut” was implemented in line with the cap to avoid a harsh drop-off in US funding in the coming years. Accordingly, many advocates are not viewing it as an actual cut. 

The remaining decrease in funding comes from a significant $200 million (22 percent) cut to USAID Global Health Security (GHS). The FY24 funding for GHS of $700 million retains a $100 million carve-out for a US contribution to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, but advocates are still piecing together what the $200 million slash could mean for other GHS programming. This picture is further complicated by the opaque nature of how the US government intends to fund a contribution to the World Bank Pandemic Fund, which is neither specified in the bill in terms of a funding number nor in the programmatic budget line. The Biden Administration announced last year its intent to contribute $250 million to the fund, but this contribution is not actually detailed in the spending package, so it remains unclear how this commitment will be realized. Slightly cushioning the overall cut to State and USAID global health programs are some modest increases to the budget lines for the maternal and child health (through an increase in funding to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance), nutrition, and other public health threats programs.

In a key win for global health research advocates, Congress also included accompanying report language for SFOPS directing USAID to increase its spending for health R&D over the prior fiscal year and to publish an annual report on its health R&D activities and investments. Notably, the reauthorization of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was also included in the SFOPS bill but only for one year, so authorization will expire next March. This one-year reauthorization tees up another battle, which will certainly be shaped by the political climate and controlling parties following the presidential and congressional elections this fall.


While few may think of the US Department of Defense (DoD) as a key global health player, the agency’s spending supports R&D against epidemic-prone diseases and other health issues that pose a risk to US national security and service members stationed abroad—so its investments contribute to combating diseases endemic in many of the world’s poorest places. Encouragingly, language supporting DoD's research on infectious diseases and the development of medical countermeasures was included in the accompanying Defense bill report.

Unfortunately, however, Congress did not include tuberculosis among the diseases eligible to be funded via the DoD-led Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s (CDMRP’s) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), as has been the case in years past. This is a point of future advocacy since the CDMRP PRMRP funds other neglected and emerging diseases in line with the list of eligible diseases defined in the Senate’s Defense bill each year.

FY25 President’s Budget: A story of lowered ambition

On March 11, President Joe Biden released his FY25 budget request, outlining his administration's recommendations to Congress for spending for the next fiscal year. The FY25 PBR is more moderate than Biden’s FY24 proposal, which can be largely attributed to the administration upholding their end of the debt ceiling bargain to keep overall spending levels capped at roughly FY23 levels. But even still, the lack of boldness for global health activities across the board was felt by advocates.

With respect to global health programs at State and USAID, the budget proposes an overall decrease of approximately $733 million (7 percent) compared to FY23 enacted levels. This includes a $175 million (4.2 percent) cut to USAID and a $558 million (8.9 percent) cut to State global health programs. Concerning the latter, the cut comes from the PBR proposing a $1.19 billion contribution to the Global Fund, which would be an $810 million reduction from FY23 levels. As previously noted, this drastic cut is due in large part to the cap imposed on maximum US contributions; however, advocates are still pushing for $1.65 billion in FY25, citing projections that the US contribution can be set higher without violating the cap. 

The proposed USAID cut is more nuanced and comes from an accounting choice by the administration to transfer funding for the US contribution to the Pandemic Fund ($250 million) from under the Global Health Security line at USAID to the budget for State’s new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy, which will now manage US engagement with the fund. In conversations with the agency, the movement of this funding is not being perceived as a cut—leaving USAID’s global health programs largely untouched in the PBR. Most programs are flat funded, though the budget proposes a modest $30 million (3.3 percent) boost to USAID’s maternal and child health programs and a reduction of $26 million (4.5 percent) to USAID’s family planning account.

On the LHHS side, the budget proposal is slightly rosier, though far from ambitious. The PBR proposes increases of $20 million (2.1 percent) for BARDA and $1.4 billion (2.3 percent) for NIH overall, with the latter including a modest boost of $18.72 million (0.3 percent) for NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases but flat funding for NIH’s Fogarty International Center, which supports global health research and training. CDC received a proposed increase of $465.4 million (5 percent) in the PBR, with NCEZID receiving a $30 million (4 percent) increase and the Center for Global Health flat funded.

Notably, CDC’s congressional budget justification proposes that $20 million of this funding for NCEZID be put towards wastewater surveillance, which is programming that is currently being supported unsustainably via emergency funding for the COVID-19 response. Additionally, in the BARDA congressional budget justification, the administration suggests a $20 million boost “to increase BARDA’s Broad Spectrum Antimicrobials and Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria portfolio" through engagement with the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, or CARB-X, an international partnership focused on accelerating the development of new antibacterial innovations.

While GHTC understands the administration’s fiscal situation and negotiating position with Congress, the discrepancy between the administration’s ambitions from the FY24 PBR to the FY25 PBR are stark, with some agencies seeing decreases of over $1 billion between the two presidential requests.

FY25 outlook: Not great, but not bad

While it may feel cruel for advocates, there is no breathing room between the FY24 and FY25 appropriations processes. Additionally, the constraints the global health community felt in 2024 in the wake of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023—also known as the Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Deal that capped spending growth—are still with us. Even though the outcomes of the FY24 spending package were discouraging for global health advocates—it went better than many expected. 

For FY25, while a robust and bold global and public health budget is the goal—holding off any cuts and returning to FY23 topline budgets for global health programs will be critical. GHTC will be working to communicate that message clearly while keeping in mind the uphill battle caused by the parameters forced upon appropriators by last June’s debt ceiling deal.

Other obstacles like election-year politicking and a remarkable loss in global health champions in Congress will make future negotiations harder and will require advocates to go more on the offense. Pushing for stronger toplines and no cuts will be vital in FY25 to get the gains the community needs to get the world back on track toward eradicating neglected diseases and better preparing for emerging threats.

About the authors

Alex LongGHTC

Alex serves as US policy and advocacy officer with GHTC leading congressional outreach, policy development, and legislative analysis to support the US advocacy work of the coalition. Before joining GHTC, Alex worked for almost more about this author

Adey FentawGHTC

Adey supports GHTC’s US policy and advocacy initiatives and strengthens collaboration with coalition members. Prior to joining GHTC, Adey worked at the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, specifically focusing on white collar more about this author