House Committee Approves Appropriations Bill That Would Remove Ban on City Funding for Needle-Exchange Programs in Washington, D.C.
The House Appropriations Committee recently approved a $21.4 billion appropriations bill that would lift a ban on city funding for needle-exchange programs in Washington, D.C., CongressDaily reports (Kivlan, CongressDaily, 6/12). The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government last week voted to remove language from the bill that prevents the district from financing the programs. The ban was first imposed under a federal law signed by former President Clinton in 1998 that prohibits the district government from using local tax money to fund any organization that operates a needle-exchange program. The House has added the ban each year to the district's appropriations bill.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), chair of the subcommittee, recently said he would make it a priority to push for removal of the language. District Mayor Adrian Fenty has said that he will provide funds for needle-exchange programs as soon as Congress removes the language.
Injection drug use is the second most common mode of HIV transmission among men in the district and the most common mode among women in the city. Prevention Works!, the district's only needle-exchange program, is financed through private donations and reaches about one-third of the estimated 9,700 injection drug users in the city (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/6).
The committee passed the bill by voice vote. According to CongressDaily, Republican supporters of the ban will "make their move" when the House considers the bill (CongressDaily, 6/12).