October 6, 2005
RALLYING FOR RYAN
WATERS (L) AND NORTON: They stumped for the CARE Act
Nearly a week after the Ryan White CARE Act (RWCA) expired, Congressional leaders are doing little to initiate the process of reauthorizing this crucial bill for the next five years. A notable exception to this vacuum came last Wednesday, two days before the Act expired, when members of the Congressional Black Caucus —including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) —took the floor of the House of Representatives to call for the swift reauthorization of the Act, noting the disproportionate rates of HIVAIDS in African Americans.
The speakers, organized by Rep. Donna M. Christian-Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) , also asked that the Act, flat-funded the past four years at $2.1 billion, be brought to at least $3.1 billion (topping the $2.6 million most AIDS advocates have been calling for). Waters spoke out against President Bush's reauthorization principles, accusing them of "pitting the most affected communities against one another" and denouncing his request that 75 percent of all RWCA monies go to so-called core medical services. "Reducing HIV/AIDS support services in order to prioritize HIV medical services is no way to address the needs of people with HIV and AIDS," she said.
Millenden noted that African Americans, though making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, account for half of all estimated AIDS cases. "This number is an outrage," she said. "We cannot sit idly by and watch this disease tear apart our communities and affect a generation of our children."
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) also submitted testimony for the congressional record supporting reauthorization. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also expected to speak up for reauthorization of the CARE Act this week; click here to read their talking points of data showing that Latinos, too, are disproportionately affected by the epidemic.
(Plus, this week, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) is submitting this resolution in Congress in recognition of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day), which is October 15. If your organization would like to endorse, call her office at 202.224.5464.)
IN OTHER CORNERS...
Also last week, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) went on the congressional record supporting RWCA reauthorization, specifically calling on the president to release emergency ADAP funding to help states sheltering HIV-positive Katrina evacuees—and criticizing Bush's request that RWCA give less money to localities with robust state and local funding streams. Engel said such a policy "punishes states that have taken responsibility for their local HIV care and creates a powerful disincentive for other states [against prioritizing] HIV funding in future years, if they think the federal government will just cover the gap."
Engel also spoke out against Bush's request that 75 percent of RWCA monies go to core medical services, arguing that "localities that benefit from comprehensive state funding for medical care might better serve patients with using the funding for transportation to medical visits, emergency housing assistance for homeless patients and other key services."
Engel, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee (the House body that oversees Ryan White), will join Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) in leading the delegation of U.S. reps from New York calling for RWCA reauthorization.
AIDS Issues Update will keep you posted on RWCA reauthorization initiatives in Congress as they develop.