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Congress at an Impasse over Zika and Contentious Policy Riders

Congress continues to grapple with its inability to bridge the partisan divide as it struggles to complete its top duties: funding the federal government and serving the best interests of the American people. While the House and Senate Appropriations committees can boast progress at the committee level—with the Senate Appropriations committee passing all 12 annual funding bills—neither chamber can boast passing more than three funding measures on their respective floors and there is little likelihood that any will be signed into law by the end of fiscal year on September 30th. This is particularly so given the limited work days remaining in the legislative calendar, with recesses taking place around the July 4th holiday and July 16th to September 5th.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, July 01, 2016


Science Alone Can't Create a Just World

I often talk about what it was like testing HIV-positive in 1992, when the only treatment available was AZT. Today, I consider the bounty of treatments available and the many more in development. I think of what science has done for me, this field, and for so many others like me. Yet science alone can’t create a just world. In its purest form, science can be cold, calculated, and simply focused on what can be proven true or false. Science has delivered both cures and bombs, has been used for both good and bad. While science has the potential to fix much of what ails us — it won’t work for the advancement of us all without being firmly steeped in and led by our values.

Posted By: Michael Kaplan, President & CEO, AIDS United - Tuesday, June 28, 2016


A House Divided

The U.S. Congress is responsible for setting the laws that govern the United States, and funding the federal programs and initiatives that serve the American people. Yet, year after year, the “new normal” has become a broken down funding process filled with divisive policy riders and breakneck countdowns to our government either running out of money or defaulting on our debt obligations. Further evidence of this was seen this week with the appropriations process stalling in the House and Senate. While the Senate will be in session four days next week, the House has taken its July 4th recess with only nine legislative days left in its schedule before a month and a half-long recess, Congress risks adjourning for the national conventions and for August with inaction on gun control, incomplete federal appropriations, and no plan to address the emerging health crisis threatened by the Zika virus.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, June 24, 2016


Senate Makes Headway on Health Funding

This week the Senate overcame a major appropriations hurdle by passing the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill out of committee with bipartisan support. The bill passed full committee by a vote of 29 yeas and 1 nay, Senator Lankford (R-OK) was the only member to vote “No” on the bill. Free of divisive policy riders like defunding Planned Parenthood or Obamacare, this marks the first time in seven years the committee passed the legislation on a bipartisan basis. Considering that the funding level is $270 million below this year’s amount, we are encouraged that it largely provides level funding for most domestic HIV programs. However, the bill proposes to cut some critical programs, including $29 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, $6 million from the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI), and provides no increases for hepatitis prevention programs at the CDC.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, June 10, 2016


Congress Update: Appropriations Process Stalling

Following last week's display of conservatism towards LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination protections in federal contracting, Congress continues to attempt movement on federal appropriations at a painstakingly slow rate. The difficulties around clearing appropriations are of particular concern to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who pledged a return to regular order. For Ryan, that means considering appropriations bills one at a time through the subcommittee and committee process and then onward to final passage by the full house. It also means that the process would be open to amendments from both sides of the aisle during floor debate.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, May 27, 2016


Congress This Week

The week of May 16th is not unlike most weeks in Congress, the House and Senate have a whole lot on their respective plates, from the need to pass federal appropriations, to addressing the potential Zika epidemic as temperatures rise, to the consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Amidst the uncertainty of how the process around the federal appropriations funding will unfold, one thing is proving predictable. This Congress disappoints as it leans ever more conservative.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, May 20, 2016


Congress Seeks to Avoid Disastrous Government Shutdown

Returning from last week’s recess, the House worked on multiple pieces of legislation to address the nation's opioid epidemic as the Senate continued work on advancing the federal appropriations process.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, May 13, 2016


Congress Returns but Appropriations Work May Stall

After being in recess for a week, Congress returns to Washington, DC next week. The Senate will reconvene on Monday, May 9 and the House will go into session the next day. Both chambers will resume work on the annual appropriations process for the 2017 fiscal year that begins October 1.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, May 06, 2016


Congress Seeks Common Ground

If we were to compare Congress to formations on this Earth it would be an archipelago, or a group of islands, as the 535 members continue to stand apart from one another. With little common ground to be found, work on the federal appropriations process is moving at a glacial pace. The House goes into recess next week, and will have only a handful of days when they return to session on May 10th before the May 15th deadline, the date after which it can legally consider appropriations bills on the House floor absent a budget resolution.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, April 29, 2016


Congress Moving Forward Without Budget Resolutions and Advanced Opioid Bills

Beginning the week on tax day, Congress grappled with a diverse set of issues. The House considered IRS oversight bills, celebrated 100 years of women in Congress, and advanced several opioid bills. The Senate advanced Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, considered energy policy reform, and began movement on the Transportation Housing and Urban Development funding bill.

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, April 22, 2016

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