Senate Passes Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill That Includes Amendment Preventing Redistribution of Ryan White Funding in Some Areas
The Senate on Tuesday voted 75-19 to pass its version of the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043), which includes an amendment that would prevent the redistribution of Ryan White Program funding in some areas of the country, CQ Today reports. The amendment was adopted 65-28 by roll call votes (Wayne, CQ Today, 10/23). The amendment -- proposed by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- was aimed to address language in the House version of the bill, CongressDaily reports (Chon, CongressDaily, 10/23). According to a release from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House version would have mitigated Ryan White funding cuts to 11 jurisdictions nationwide -- including San Francisco -- that were included in last year's reauthorization bill. The Enzi amendment included in the Senate version would reinstate those funding cuts (Pelosi release, 10/23).
Seventeen Senate Democrats from mostly rural states voted for the Enzi amendment, including Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Labor-HHS Appropriations ranking member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) were the only two Republicans to vote against the amendment (CongressDaily, 10/23).
The House version of the bill would "rob disadvantaged individuals, living in underserved areas of the country, of money they desperately need for HIV/AIDS treatment," Enzi said, adding, "We cannot let politics undo the very core mission of the Ryan White reauthorization passed last year. Revisions we made to the critically flawed funding formulas in [the program] must be preserved to ensure that federal dollars are used to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic of today, not yesterday" (Enzi release, 10/23). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that San Francisco would be disproportionately affected by the funding cuts. "I don't think it's fair to take a 30% cut in one year when you have the largest number of HIV/AIDS [cases] in the history of the epidemic in a city that has suffered ... like no other city in America," Feinstein said (CongressDaily, 10/23).
Pelosi in a statement said that although San Francisco "developed the model of community-based care that served as the basis" for the original Ryan White Program, the city's "needs are still severe." She added that she will "work with the Appropriations Committee to maintain this critical protection in conference" (Pelosi release, 10/23).