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21 Days Later, The Government Shutdown Shows No Signs of Stopping Soon

It has been 21 days since portions of the U.S. government shutdown over President Trump’s demands for border wall funding, and the two sides appear no closer to reaching an agreement than they did when the shutdown began. Here in Washington, D.C. and all across the country hundreds of thousands of federal workers, government contractors, and their family members are struggling to pay their bills as paychecks continue to be withheld while roughly 25% of the federal government is shut down.

After passing legislation last week that would have reopened the government –  collectively funding 6 of the 7 outstanding appropriations measures for the rest of Fiscal Year 2019 and passing a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security at Fiscal Year 2018 levels until February 8th – House Democratic leadership took a different tact this week, putting forward individual spending bills to a vote in an attempt to splinter Republican solidarity around the President’s shutdown demands. Thus far, the House has passed spending bills for Financial Services, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD), and combined Agriculture/Food and Drug Administration.

Unfortunately, the T-HUD spending bill that was passed by the House earlier this week included flat funding for HOPWA at $375 million rather than the original House committee version of the bill that allocated $393 million to the program. AIDS United encourages that the Senate to fund HOPWA at $393 million in any final spending package they pass and invites HIV advocates to join us in writing their members of Congress to ensure that the housing needs of people living with HIV are properly addressed.

As of right now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take up any House-passed spending bill in the Senate unless border wall funding is attached to it, so there does not appear to be a viable path forward for any of the appropriations measures that have made it through the House. Earlier in the week, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) suggested that a potential path forward would be to tie the raising of spending caps for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 to the current negotiations for Fiscal Year 2019.

Later today, the House will vote on the Interior-Environment spending bill that includes funding for the Indian Health Service. Since the start of the shutdown, many American Indian tribes have either been unable to take care of the populations they represent and serve or have been forced to dip into their own savings to pay for services that are supposed to be guaranteed to them by the federal government. As we maintain, this treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native populations could cause significant harm to tribal members who are living with, affected by, or vulnerable to HIV and is unacceptable.

AIDS United hopes that Congress and the Trump administration will find a way to end the government shutdown as quickly as possible while providing robust funding for all outstanding programs that impact people living with and affected by HIV. For all the latest information on the shutdown and how it impacts funding for HIV programs, check back regularly with AIDS United’s Policy Update.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, January 11, 2019

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