Labor/HHS Appropriations Conference Committee Approves Funding
Increases for AIDS Programs, Amends Syringe Exchange Provision
October 31, 1997
The House and Senate conference committee on the FY 98 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill, worked last night and today to finalize agreements on the bill. Although the entire conference report has not been completed, it appears that agreement has been reached on the portions of the bill addressing the programs that are critical to our communities. Once completed (probably early next week at the latest), the conference report will be considered by the full House and Senate for final passage by each chamber and then go to President Clinton for his signature into law.
Increases for HIV/AIDS Programs!!The following funding increases (over FY97 funding levels) for prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ryan White CARE Act programs, and AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expected in the final conference report:
Ryan White CARE Act: Cumulative
NIH AIDS Research
Syringe Exchange Funding Ban:Another critical issue during the conference was a House provision that would prohibit the secretary of health and human services from granting federal funds to support syringe exchange programs. Although the conference report retains the secretary's current authority to release federal funds to these programs, it also would enact a 6-month moratorium -- or waiting period -- (until March 31, 1998) on the secretary's ability to exercise this authority. In addition, we expect Congress to direct the secretary to develop requirements for these programs that would ensure that they are "exchange" and not "distribution" oriented. AIDS Action is working with conferees to ensure that any congressional directive is not unnecessarily restrictive.
What Next for the Labor/HHS Bill?It is still unclear how quickly the House and Senate chambers will vote to accept the conference report. Disagreements between lawmakers on other issues may delay final passage by Congress. There is also the possibility that President Clinton may veto the bill if he believes it does not adequately address national education testing standards. A veto, however, would probably not endanger AIDS funding levels in the bill.
AIDS Action would like to take this opportunity to thank you and other members of the AIDS Action Network for your continued dedication to secure the best possible funding for our communities' programs and repeal the House syringe exchange funding ban.
Considering the recent approval of the 1997 budget agreement limiting the pool of funds available for our programs and the strong rhetoric on Capitol Hill regarding syringe exchange programs, our achievements so far have been remarkable. Although it's not over yet, your hard work -- the calls, the letters, and the meetings -- is paying off. Keep up the great work!
Mark Your Calendar! Bookmark Your Browser!
On December 1, AIDS Action will kick-off its Until It's Over E-March, the first-ever electronic march on Washington that will allow concerned Americans to let our leaders know that we care about AIDS "until it's over." No buses, no hotel reservations, no inclement weather -- just the messages of thousands of Americans delivered to the policy-makers in Washington.
Watch for more information soon or visit our website at www.aidsaction.org for the latest news.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.