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Some HIV Programs Get Cut in Senate Appropriations Bills

Last month, in an 82-15 vote, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) in order to avoid a government shutdown while the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) appropriations process is finalized. The resolution will keep programs funded at FY19 levels through November 21 to allow both House and Senate chambers to iron out differences, although lawmakers will likely enact another CR after that date should they need additional time to complete government funding details.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS) bill included increases of $140 million for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  $70 million for the Ryan White Program, $50 million for community health centers, and $6 million for the Centers for AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health – all mirroring the President’s original budget request for Ending the HIV Epidemic (EtE) initiative. Despite these increases, disparities between the House and the Senate L-HHS bill remain. The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations numbers fell well short of those allocated by the House earlier this year, with the House bill providing $46.4 million more for the Ryan White Program and roughly $54 million more for the CDC’s viral hepatitis, STD prevention, tuberculosis elimination, and opioid related infectious diseases programs. Distressingly, Senate appropriators slashed funding for the Housing for Persons living with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) program by $63 million compared to the previous year. HOPWA is an important program that supports housing for over 60,000 households annually and helps ensure individuals living with HIV adhere to treatment and maintain good health and/or viral suppression.

Unfortunately, issues with the Senate Labor-HHS bill can be found not only in the lack of funding provided to programs that are vital to ending the HIV epidemic, but in language preventing how federal funding can be used. The Senate appropriations bill continues to maintain language that bans syringe services programs from using federal funding to purchase syringes or cookers for the people they serve, despite that provision being removed from the House's bill and syringe services programs receiving widespread bipartisan support both within Congress and the Trump administration.

As of now, the House of Representatives has passed 10 of their 12 appropriations bills while the Senate has not acted on any. The process moving forward remains unclear as the impeachment inquiry launched a few weeks ago by Democrats in the House of Representatives may further complicate negotiations with the White House on appropriations.

While the continuing resolution does not include an anomaly, or carve-out increases for certain programs during the period of a CR, for funding the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EtE) initiative, AIDS United is working with allies in Congress to ensure new funding for the EtE plan so this vital work may begin should any further CR is required, including ensuring the full funding of federal programs serving people living with, impacted by, and vulnerable to HIV.

Check back to the Policy Update frequently for all the latest on HIV appropriations and policy.

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

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