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AIDS Action Weekly Update

October 4, 1996

Welcome to AIDS Action Council's Weekly Washington Update, an on-line newsletter that reviews what is happening in Washington on AIDS policy issues each week. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at the e-mail address listed below.

The 104th Congress Adjourns

Despite efforts and hopes of lawmakers to adjourn last week, the 104th Congress is wrapping up today October 4. The beginning of this Republican-controlled session of Congress incited much wariness and trepidation among AIDS advocates as AIDS programs as well as other health and social programs were constantly threatened with massive cuts and/or elimination. Although there were many challenges and frustrations, this session ends on a positive note for AIDS programs and the people they serve. The more recent achievements are outlined below.

VA-HUD Signed Into Law

The FY 97 VA-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3666), the seventh and last regular FY 97 spending bill, was signed into law by the president September 26. As reported earlier, an additional $25 million for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program was included in the final conference report of the bill resulting in a FY 97 allocation for HOPWA of $196 million. The additional $25 million for HOPWA will come from "recaptured" savings in another Housing and Urban Development (HUD) account, however, attaining these extra funds for HOPWA is dependent on HUD collecting the recaptured funds as they become available and assigning them to the HOPWA account. The FY 97 HOPWA formula will be run on $196 million if the recaptures are available early. If the recaptures are expected to be slow in coming, however, the initial formula will be run on a base of $171 million with a supplemental formula process to follow later in the year for the additional $25 million. AIDS advocates should strongly encourage HUD to run the initial funding formula for HOPWA based on $196 million rather than $171 million so that grantees will know what funding levels to expect in order to plan accordingly.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill Provides Increases For Aids Funding

The Omnibus Consolidated appropriations bill for 1997 was passed by both houses of Congress before the 1996 fiscal year expiration date of September 30 and signed into law on that date. The six remaining spending bills for FY 97, including the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, are contained in the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 4278). AIDS programs within the Labor-HHS-Education portion of the bill enjoyed substantial increases given the budget-cutting environment that pervaded much of the 104th Congress. Increases for AIDS programs above FY 96 levels and total FY 97 levels are as follows: Ryan White CARE Act Title I, $58.2 million for a total of $449.9 million; Title II care services, $41.2 million for a total of $250 million; Title II, AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), $115 million for a total of $167 million; Title IIIb, $12.7 million for a total of $69.6 million; Title IV, $7 million for a total of $36 million; Title V, AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs), $4.3 million for a total of $16.3 million, and AIDS Dental reimbursement programs, $.6 million for a total of $7.5 million; AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $32.9 million for a total of $617 million; AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $93.9 million for a total of $1,501.7 million. The contentious issue of the consolidated appropriation for AIDS research at the NIH was settled through compromise language which empowers the Directors of the NIH and the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) to determine the level of AIDS research at each Institute in accordance with the AIDS research strategic plan. The compromise also grants the OAR up to 3 percent transfer authority throughout the fiscal year to respond to changing research needs and priorities. For AIDS advocates and those living with HIV/AIDS, these funding increases represent a decisive victory and a positive note on which to end the 104th Congress.

Also included in the omnibus appropriations bill was the conference report on immigration reform. See below for further details on the immigration reform portion.

HIV Provisions Removed From Immigration Reform

In another victory for the AIDS community, the egregious provisions of the Immigration Reform bill (H.R. 2202) that would have denied publicly funded treatment for HIV/AIDS to legal immigrants and undocumented individuals, were stripped from the final bill. The Immigration Reform bill was folded into the Omnibus Consolidated appropriations bill of 1997 which was signed into law September 30. Advocates for immigrants' groups and people living with HIV/AIDS were outraged that HIV/AIDS was singled out of all other communicable diseases in these blatantly discriminatory provisions. This outrage led to a massive grassroots mobilization effort which resulted in the ultimate deletion of these provisions despite statements of support for them from Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), and Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY). Another provision that would have resulted in the possible deportation of legal immigrants who had received over 12 months of public assistance was also dropped from the final bill.

For more information contact:
Lisa White
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.