Congress Blocks Funding of Baby AIDS Program (Update)

February 21, 2007

Last week I wrote about Congress' de-funding of the Baby AIDS program Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) believed the move was retribution by appropriators for his militant stance on spending, as well as for his criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while others claimed the initiative was simply an unfortunate casualty of earmark reform.

The new House appropriations chief David Obey (D-WI) even attempted to use this line of reasoning, claiming "Many worthwhile earmarks are not funded in this measure, but we had to take this step to clear the decks, clean up the process and start over."

But notes Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal, The key language here is not funded in this measure,...

Congressional members, led by appropriators and an army of staff, have already figured out a new way to keep their favors in the money, and it might as well be called 1-800-EARMARKS (which unfortunately is already taken). All across Washington, members are at this moment phoning budget officers at federal agencies--Interior, Defense, HUD, you name it--privately demanding that earmarks in previous legislation be fully renewed again this year.

To ensure this back door option wouldnt be available to Coburn, language was included in the bill that explicitly stated that None of the funds appropriated by this division may be used for the infant AIDS program. Someone at the CDC was apparently still upset over another one of the Senators amendment to move $60 million from the CDC construction program to another AIDS reduction program.

Although the language will try to be overridden, Coburns staff is unsure that the money would actually be used for HIV/AIDS testing and prevention. In a memo to the CDC they wrote:

"The $30 million will instead revert to other CDC HIV/AIDS prevention activities, which in recent years have included beachside conferences, flirting classes, erotic writing seminars, zoo trips and other dubious initiatives that do not have the same impact as HIV diagnosis and treatment," the memo states.

So what would the CDC do with the money? Previous earmarks may offer a clue to what would happen to the funding. Here are just a handful of the activities that the CDC has paid for through the STOP AIDS Project. [Note: I started to post it here but even using asterisks to indicate edits for decency, it was still too filthy and disgusting to put on on this blog. Instead Ill refer you to the Abstinence Clearinghouse website. (Scroll down halfway down the page)]

Keep in mind that these are programs that are being funded with your tax dollars. These are the types of prevention programs that the CDC believes are more worthy of funding than one that protects babies from acquiring HIV.