AIDS Action Applauds Passage Of H.R. 3019 With Ryan White Care Act Funding Increases, Repeal Of Military HIV Ban, Resurrection Of AETCs
Concern Remains About HOPWA Funding, OAR Budget Authority
April 26, 1996
Washington, D.C. -- AIDS advocates are expressing relief and elation today with the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1996 (H.R. 3019). Relief because H.R. 3019 at long last funds scores of AIDS programs whose fiscal year 1996 (FY96) funding has been caught in limbo during six months of contentious budget talks between the Republican congressional leadership and the Clinton administration. Elation because in a fiscally- and socially conservative climate AIDS care programs enjoyed a significant funding increase, a previously eliminated AIDS education program was resurrected, and a provision mandating the discharge from active duty of HIV-positive troops was repealed.
"Six months into FY96 and 12 continuing resolutions later we finally have clarity on funding for critical AIDS care, education and housing programs," said Christine Lubinski, deputy executive director of AIDS Action Council, the only national organization devoted solely to advocating on federal AIDS policy and legislation. "Considering the political climate in Washington, we are overjoyed at the significant gains that were accomplished in this budget year by dint of hard work and perseverance in the face of great legislative challenges. Our funding increases were made sweeter with the repeal of the military HIV ban, a victory that represents a massive blow to those who would legislate discrimination against a select group of Americans simply because they are HIV-infected."
Lubinski counts among the victories:
"We accomplished incredible feats with the passage of this bill. Yet, not all news here is good news," Lubinski said. "We have some serious concerns, not the least of which are the level funding of an overburdened AIDS housing program and the noticeable omission of language restoring the Office of AIDS Research's consolidated budget authority."
"Unfortunately, the drastic cut in the amount of FY96 funding available for all housing programs, combined with President Clinton's failure to make HOPWA a budget priority, made our efforts to get desperately-needed FY96 HOPWA funding increases practically impossible," said Aimee Berenson, legislative counsel at AIDS Action Council. "Regardless, we will continue to press the administration and Congress to explore options for increasing funding for this critically important program in FY96 and FY97."
"We will continue to press this issue until there is resolution," said Gary Rose, AIDS Action Council's legislative representative for treatment and research issues. "A strong OAR with consolidated budget authority is crucial to AIDS research efforts in the United States."
With passage of H.R. 3019 and final resolution to the FY96 budget process, Lubinski said the AIDS advocacy community will now change gears to fight to preserve funding gains made this fiscal year and attempt to achieve FY97 funding increases for critical AIDS care, education and prevention, treatment and research, and housing programs.
"We have scored some major victories today for people living with AIDS. The need is far from met, however, and the battles far from over," Lubinski said.
"We must continue to advocate for adequately funded programs that care for those infected and protect the uninfected from this insidious disease."
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.