As the battle over budget cuts continues on Capitol Hill, the head of one federal agency told lawmakers the budget cuts Republicans are fighting for would result in the deaths of 70,000 children.
During his testimony before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah said “We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R.1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying.”
“Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malaria control programs that would have to be scaled back specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments and 16,000 would be because of a lack of skilled attendants at birth,” Shah said.
The bill in question, H.R. 1, is the complete spending bill for FY 2011. It was passed by the Republican-controlled House, but rejected by the Senate.
Shah, however, was on the Hill to defend his agency’s budget request for FY 2012.
“USAID’s work also strengthens America’s economic security,” he said. “By establishing links to consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, we effectively position American countries to enter more markets and sell more goods in the economies of the future, promoting exports and creating American jobs.”
But Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the chairwoman of the subcommittee, told Shah USAID’s budget request was essentially a non-starter.
“While I understand the value of many of these important programs, the funding request for next year is — is truly unrealistic in today’s budget environment,” said Granger. “We simply cannot fund everything that has been funded in the past.”
Before being appointed to head USAID, Shah worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and served as a health care policy adviser on Al Gore’s presidential campaign.