Commentary: Newhouse and Reichert: Bipartisan leaders in global health initiatives

U.S. Representative Dave Reichert (Provided photo)

U.S. Representative Dave Reichert (Provided photo)

By Jim Russell
Empire Press Correspondent

Douglas County’s citizens should be proud to know both congressional representatives from Douglas County — Rep. Dan Newhouse and Rep. Dave Reichert — are on the forefront of compassionate conservatism in several bipartisan bills, some of which passed Congress and were signed by President Obama.

All 12 members of Washington state’s congressional delegation signed a letter to President Obama on July 15 urging him to support appropriations for the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This comes as Obama prepares to attend September’s Fifth Voluntary Replenishment Conference in Montreal.

The letter stated that over 168 global health organizations are based in Washington and “have an enormous impact in our state, providing more than 12,620 jobs.” They also “have 5,100 projects in 151 countries, a truly remarkable reach. Many of the Washington state-based global health institutions are proud partners of the Global Fund.”

The Global Fund ( was founded in 2002 to reduce devastation from inadequate health care and since then has saved 17 million lives by financing and disbursing grants to health organizations.

On Sept. 10, 2015, senior columnist Jay Evensen in Deseret News called the reality of those 17 million lives “the greatest success story of our times.” He said the success “involves to a large extent, the U.S. government.”

Fighting disease at the source saves Washington state voters because we reduce costs to fight the spread of diseases that come in through our airports, shipping ports and highways. Using Ebola as an example, Washington spent millions of dollars to protect against possible contamination, which we could have avoided if world health organizations had eradicated it at the source, Dr. Scott Lindquist, Master of Public Health and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases and deputy health officer, told Wenatchee Rotary in June. “Do you know how many cases of Ebola we had in Washington,” he asked? “Zero.”

Gathering signatures for the 10 representatives and two senators from the state’s congressional delegation urging Obama to increase Global Fund appropriations was organized by Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Washington’s 6th District. But it was Reichert, a Republican and co-sponsor of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015, who recruited bipartisan support for the bill from the Washington delegation.

The bill formulates a strategy to reduce mortality of mothers and children under age 5 by delivering proven low-cost care in desperate regions. Unbelievably in this era, the program didn’t cost any money because it refocused existing staff in aid programs.

Those programs earn bipartisan support by promising payback for everyone — sometimes spectacularly — as reported by a commission from Lancet, a media group covering global health and medicine ( Lancet’s report indicated “that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $9 to $20 in growing the gross domestic product of the country receiving the investment.”

When Rep. Newhouse’s office was contacted on April 7 about the specifics in the bill, Newhouse reviewed it and signed on as a co-sponsor on April 11, according to an email sent to me by Will Boyington, Newhouse’s Washington, D.C., communications director.

Despite the bipartisan support, the bill is still in committee with only a 5 percent chance of passing, according to GovTrack ( as of July 19.

Perhaps the odds are better than that. Bipartisan support, including Newhouse and Reichert, passed the Global Food Security Act on July 7. (More information on the Global Food Security Act’s passage is available through a July 6 blog post by Ambassador Susan Rice at

It bolsters efforts by the U.S. to eliminate hunger and malnutrition globally by providing backing to existing programs, including the Obama administration’s Feed the Future program, according to the online news site Humanosphere (

And as I reported earlier this year, both Reichert and Newhouse supported the Electrify Africa Act (H.R. 2548) signed by President Obama. That bill increased U.S. participation in programs to extend reliable electricity to residents and businesses in sub-Saharan African nations to provide better medical facilities, agricultural production and business development.

We should thank Newhouse and Reichert for their guidance, as part of Washington state’s delegation, to provide U.S. bipartisan leadership for compassionate conservatism in fighting poverty as one of the root causes of instability in our world.

U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (Provided photo)

U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (Provided photo)