Battle Lines Drawn in Congressional Budget Fight
Rather than putting forward a Democratic alternative to the House budget passed last month, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad (D-ND) put forward a proposal based on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan released by the bipartisan presidential commissionin December 2010. The plan, which is all but a non-starter in the Senate, and has already been voted down in the House, would reduce the deficit by $5.4 trillion dollars through significant spending cuts, but also raising taxes. Republicans criticized Sen. Conrad’s move, and pointed to the Senate’s failure to pass a budget for three consecutive years. In response, Sen. Conrad and some of his allies argue that last year’s Budget Control Act took the place of the normal budgeting process by writing spending caps into law for the next two years.
In that same vein, the Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) of the House Appropriations Committee, making it clear that the President will not sign any budget that does not follow the spending limits put in place by the Budget Control Act. While the budget passed by the House last month would likely have never made it through the Senate to begin with, the letter draws a clear line in the sand, ensuring that even if it were to make it to the President’s desk, he would veto it.
NMAC will continue to monitor the budget process and update constituents on any important developments.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Update
Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that will create a state health exchange in New York, and provide a marketplace where New Yorkers, regardless of pre-existing condition can purchase health insurance in a competitive marketplace. The exchange will bring New York in line with 13 other states that are developing similar marketplaces and are an essential component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA is critical to our national efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and all states must be engaged in both influencing the establishment of and monitoring the implementation of their respective exchanges. Despite the uncertainty around the Supreme Court challenge to the law, it is important that states not delay the development of these exchanges, which would provide an essential marketplace for millions of individuals to purchase insurance, including individuals living with HIV or AIDS, regardless of the Court’s decision around the individual mandate.
Read NMAC’s press release applauding Governor Cuomo’s order here.
Domestic Violence and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Women
Just weeks after the White House announced the formation of an inter-agency working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities, the Senate is poised for a battle over the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Originally passed in 1994, VAWA has historically enjoyed broad bipartisan support, and was reauthorized unanimously by the Senate in 2000 and 2005. After the law expired last fall however, new provisions that included additional protections for Native Americans and LGBT victims of domestic violence made many Republicans balk at the prospect of another reauthorization, settling instead on simply continuing to fund the programs established under the law.