Congress Passes 1 Week CR; Work Continues on Year-Long CR; AETCs Suffer Severe Cut.
March 15, 1996
Yesterday, the House and Senate passed another temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) which will expire next Friday, March 22nd. This CR replaces and funds programs at the same levels as the CR that is set to expire at midnight tonight. You will recall that the current CR provides funding at the FY'95 level for Ryan White and HOPWA and at 75% of FY'95 funding for the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs). Congress is still working on the "omnibus" FY '96 appropriations bill which we reported to you about last week. The Senate is debating and amending its version of the omnibus bill and is expected to vote on final passage as early as Tuesday March 26th.
As you know, the Senate bill, like the House, provides an increase of $52m for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Unfortunately the increase in the Senate bill is conditional. (Please see March 8 Action Alert for details.) When the Senate completes its bill, and conferences its bill with the House (settles differences between the two bills), we will work to ensure that the House version regarding ADAP and the additional $52m ultimately prevails, so that these desperately-needed ADAP funds will be available as soon as the omnibus FY '96 appropriations bill is signed into law by the President.
The AETC program only received $6m in both bills, $10.3m less than FY 95. This amount is an improvement over the original House FY '96 L/H appropriations bill, which eliminated all funding for this important program, but $6m still represents a cut of over 60 percent and a reduction of $2m from the original Senate Labor/HHS bill. It is critical that you contact your Senators and urge them to support restoring funds for the AETCs.
Call your Senators. Urge them to ensure that the final version of the FY '96 omnibus bill unconditionally includes the $52m for ADAP programs, so these funds are immediately accessible to states and people living with HIV/AIDS. Tell them they must provide at least $12m for the AETC program, so that people with AIDS can be confident that their health care providers know how to treat HIV disease. Finally, tell them that final negotiations must preserve, at a minimum, the funding levels set out in the House and Senate bills so far for all AIDS programs.
All Senators can be reached at 202-224-3121. E-mail addresses for your Senators can be found posted in HandsNet at Resources/Congressional Contacts.
Bills to Repeal Discharge of Service Members Gaining Ground
The Senate Cohen-Kennedy Bill will be introduced soon. Senators D'Amato (R-NY), Nunn (D-GA), McCain (R-AZ), Mack (R-FL), Hatch (R-UT), Bennett (R-UT) and Simpson (R-WY) have all come on the Senate bill in the last week for a total of 55 cosponsors. The House bill now has 146 co-sponsors with the addition of the following members this week: Blute (R-MA), Davis (R-MI), Fox (R-PA), Greenwood (R-PA), Houghton (R-NY), Miller (R-FL), Owens (D-NY), Sawyer (OH-14), Stupak (R-MI). We are working to attach the repeal bills to other legislation currently moving through the Congress.
For more information, contact
Congress Working on New Continuing Resolution;
Ryan White, HOPWA, AETC's and New Funding for ADAP included in CR.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.