House Votes To Remove Amendment From Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill That Would Have Reduced Ryan White Funding in Some Areas
The House on Wednesday voted 230-196 to defeat an amendment in the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043) that would have reduced Ryan White Program funding for some areas, including San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The amendment -- which was introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) -- highlights the debate between cities like San Francisco, which were at the "epicenter" of the HIV/AIDS epidemic when it first emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s, and communities nationwide that were "hit by the disease later," according to the Chronicle. Communities more recently affected by the costs associated with HIV/AIDS have said that Ryan White funding formulas "unfairly favo[r] cities such as San Francisco and have been trying to change it, with some success," the Chronicle reports (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).
The Bush administration in May announced Ryan White funding reductions for some areas -- including an $8.6 million reduction in funding to the San Francisco metropolitan area, which includes San Mateo and Marin counties -- according to a release from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi and Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wisc.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, included language in the Labor-HHS bill to mitigate funding cuts to San Francisco and 11 other jurisdictions nationwide. The language restored $6.3 million in funding for San Francisco. The amendment introduced by Barton would have reinstated those cuts, according to the release (Pelosi release, 7/18).
"What we were trying to do was make more funds available to those areas of the country where the epidemic was still prevalent and growing and less funds on a discretionary basis where the epidemic had once been centered but was now, thankfully, not as prevalent," Barton said (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20). Pelosi said that "more people are living with HIV/AIDS" in San Francisco than at "any point in the history of the epidemic," adding, "Cuts of the magnitude proposed by the Bush administration would have severely harmed access to lifesaving medical care" (Pelosi release, 7/18). The House on Thursday voted 276-140 to approve the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, but President Bush has threatened to veto the measure. The Senate has not acted on a similar measure (AP/International Herald Tribune, 7/20).