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As Spending Bills Move Forward in the House, Conflict Looms

With just 116 days left of this fiscal year and with a contentious disaster relief bill finally out of the way, legislators, especially in the House, return their attention in earnest to fiscal year 2020 (FY20) appropriations.

Representatives in the House will be considering the year’s first appropriations package – a “minibus” consolidating spending for federal agencies covering Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (L-HHS); Defense; State and Foreign Operations; Energy and Water; and the Legislative Branch – beginning on June 12, with debate expected to last into the week of the 17th. If it passes, the House will have passed five annual appropriations bills, putting them well on their way to achieving Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD-5) goal of finishing all twelve appropriations bills by the end of June. Budget negotiators still have not reached a deal on top-level spending caps, meaning that these negotiations will be punted until later in the appropriations process – which does not necessarily bode well for getting to the new fiscal year, beginning October 1, without a continuing resolution. House Democrats are operating under their own discretionary cap of $1.295 trillion; the minibus, at $990 billion, represents 70 percent of total proposed 2020 spending.

Despite repeating last year’s successful strategy of pairing the L-HHS and Defense bills (as L-HHS can contain controversial provisions, while Defense is typically considered “must-pass”), one politically fraught policy “rider” threatens to disrupt the FY20 process; the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of any federal funds for abortion care, has come under renewed scrutiny as Democratic contenders seek to become the party’s presidential nominee. After facing significant backlash from many within his own party for voicing support for the Hyde Amendment,  former Vice President Joe Biden recently reversed his position to oppose the health care-obstructing provision, while all other prospective nominees voiced their own strong opposition.

The Hyde Amendment blocks access to essential health care services from low-income people, people with disabilities, federal employees, active duty military personnel, veterans, indigenous people, incarcerated or detained people, and peace corps volunteers. The anti-care rider could prove to be a significant sticking point in FY20 appropriations discussions, particularly when it is time for the Democrat-leaning House and Republican-controlled Senate to reconcile their respective spending bills.

The L-HHS portion of the minibus contains significant increases in federal HIV spending including funding related to the Administration's Ending the Epidemic: A Plan for America. AIDS United strongly supports the passage of the L-HHS et al. appropriations bill without the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment and will continue to work with allies in Congress to fully fund the programs and institutions supporting people living with and affected by HIV. Check back with the AIDS United policy update regularly for all the latest on federal HIV funding and policy.


Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, June 07, 2019

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