Congress Begins Consideration of FY 98 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bills
Attacks on Syringe Exchange Programs Expected
September 3, 1997
The Senate returned to work yesterday and began immediate full floor debate on appropriations legislation, including the Labor, Health and Human Services (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill (S. 1061) that would authorize funding for most federal HIV/AIDS programs. The House of Representatives returns today and will probably begin floor debate of its Labor/HHS bill (H.R. 2264) on Thursday, Sept. 4.
No negative amendments have surfaced (so far) during Senate consideration of its Labor/HHS appropriations bill. However, AIDS Action has received indications that during consideration of Labor/HHS appropriations in the House, an amendment may be offered that would revoke the Secretary of Health's authority to change federal policy prohibiting federal funding of syringe exchange programs. It is important that you contact potentially supportive members of both the House and the Senate. Urge them to oppose any amendment to allow politics, not science, to drive public health.
Current federal policy bans federal funds from being applied to syringe exchange programs. There is growing evidence (including a 1997 study published by the Department of Health and Human Services) that these programs reduce rates of HIV transmission and do not increase injection drug use. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has the authority to interpret and change this policy, an authority Secretary Shalala has yet to exercise.
The Family Research Council has made opposition to syringe exchange programs a priority in its legislative strategizing and has found support for thwarting support for these life-saving programs among right-wing Republican members of Congress.
AIDS ActionContact your representatives who are Democrats or moderate Republicans who are supportive of programs addressing HIV/AIDS.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.