Budget Battles Ensue in House and Senate
March 22, 2013
On Thursday, March 21, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, in a 221-207 vote. The vote was largely along party lines, with ten Republicans joining all Democrats in voting "nay" (four Members did not vote). As proposed by Rep. Ryan, "The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible Balanced Budget" would drastically cut non-defense discretionary programs as well as mandatory programs, 70% of which benefit the most disadvantaged Americans, without offering any revenue-raising measures. Earlier this week, AIDS United circulated a letter urging Members of the House to vote no on the Ryan budget, as its effects on programs critical to people living with HIV/AIDS would be detrimental.
"Foundation for Growth: Restoring the Promise of American Opportunity," the FY 2014 budget crafted by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, was introduced to the Senate floor on Thursday, March 21, and voting on amendments to the budget began the same day. Voting on amendments will continue throughout the day Friday, and a final vote on the budget is expected late Friday night or Saturday morning. AIDS United staff members joined Senator Murray, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), member of the Senate Budget Committee, and other advocates in the community on a call to discuss the proposed budget. Sen. Murray reinforced the balanced approach of the Senate budget and contrasted it with the extreme budget proposed by Rep. Ryan, which protects corporations and the wealthiest at the expense of middle class families. Sen. Coons emphasized that the Senate budget provides a circle of protection around those most vulnerable and truly represents a balanced approach to deficit reduction. While there are no HIV/AIDS-specific lines in the budget, Sen. Coons reinforced that sustaining HIV education and prevention programs, both domestic and international, is likely to be a higher priority in the Senate budget. AIDS United was also able to ask Sen. Coons for more details regarding the $275 billion in cuts to health care proposed in the Murray budget. Sen. Coons' response highlighted the modest impact that these cuts will have to Medicaid, mostly in reforms to providers, and highlighted that these cuts are much less than the $2.75 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Rep. Ryan. He also pointed out that these cuts are less than those proposed by President Obama in his FY 2013 budget, emphasizing that they will not reduce access to benefits.
AIDS United continues to advocate for a balanced approach to deficit reduction, one which protects those most vulnerable and enacts responsible entitlement reform while proposing measures to increase revenue. For more detailed information on both the House and Senate budgets, please read last week's Policy Update. AIDS United will keep you updated on how these two budgets progress and the reconciliation process that will occur if the Senate budget passes.
This article was provided by AIDS United. It is a part of the publication AIDS United Policy Update. Visit AIDS United's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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