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Amendments to Labor/HHS Appropriations Emerge in House, FDA Reform Nears Floor Vote in Senate


September 5, 1997

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations

It appears that the Senate may be close to reaching unanimous consent on its Labor/HHS appropriations bill without further complications, such as negative amendments affecting the HIV/AIDS community.

In House consideration of Labor/HHS appropriations, however, a host of amendments may be offered as early as Monday, Sept. 8, that concern HIV/AIDS funding and programs. AIDS Action and other national HIV/AIDS groups agree that representatives should be asked to vote "NO" on each of these amendments:

  1. Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) may offer an amendment to prevent the use of federal funds to implement or promote syringe exchange programs. This amendment would eliminate the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine appropriate use of federal funds for these programs (see Sept. 3 AIDS Action Network Alert).

    Vote &quotNO": Science should drive policy, not politics. Available evidence overwhelmingly suggests that syringe exchange programs reduce HIV transmission and do not increase injection drug use. Any legislation that limits the ability of local agencies to operate syringe exchange programs presents a serious obstacle to containing the epidemic.

  2. Reps. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) may offer an amendment to increase AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding by $51 million. Supporters of this amendment argue that the increase would come from cuts in administrative costs for the following programs: $2.4 million from the Health Care Policy and Research account, $22.7 million from the refugee and entrant assistance account, $4.8 million from the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) General Management account, and $5 million from the HHS policy research account.

    Vote "NO": Although additional funding for ADAP is needed, the majority of the offsets for this amendment come from other public health programs or other programs that provide important services. In addition, Rep. Coburn, the primary sponsor of this amendment, continues to work aggressively to eliminate the Health and Human Services Secretary's authority to lift the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs. Neither AIDS Action nor, to the best of our knowledge, any other AIDS group is working with Rep. Coburn to initiate and develop this amendment.

  3. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) may offer an amendment to transfer $5 million from Title X family planning to the Ryan White AIDS Pediatric Demonstration program -- Title IV.

    Vote "NO": This amendment is a clear attack on family planning programs. Although additional funding is needed for Title IV, we do not support transferring funding from other important public health programs. Moreover, family planning services are a necessary component of comprehensive HIV prevention efforts.

  4. Reps. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) may offer an amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds to conduct "blind" HIV tests of newborns. "Blind" HIV testing is used solely to determine the incidence of HIV infection without identifying or reporting the subject from whom the sample is taken.

    Vote "NO": This amendment attempts to prohibit blind seroprevalence studies of newborns. Although there have been no such studies in operation for over 2 years, many states may still consider implementing them for surveillance purposes.


Contact your representatives Monday! Tell them to oppose these amendments. House switchboard: (202) 225-3121; ask to be connected to your representative.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reform

A revised "FDA Modernization and Accountability Act of 1997" has finally been released in the Senate and may be voted on as early as Wednesday, Sept. 10. Provisions remain in the bill that weaken the FDA's authority to protect the health of the American public from unsafe and ineffective drugs and treatments (see July 18 and August 7 AIDS Action Network Alerts).


Contact your senators again as soon as possible! Remind them to oppose this reform measure. Also call the White House and urge the Administration to oppose this bill.

Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121; ask to be connected to your senator. White House comment line: (202) 456-1111.

For further information, or to let us know how legislators and the Administration respond to your efforts, please contact Kurt Schade at (202) 986-1300, extension 3060 (e-mail:

For more information, contact:
AIDS Action
Kurt Schade, Network Correspondent
1875 Connecticut Ave., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009
phone:(202) 986-1300, ext. 3060
fax: (202) 986-1345

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
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