House Bars Needle Exchanges Funds
April 29, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Not satisfied with what members called a halfhearted effort by the administration, the House voted Wednesday to bar federal money for needle-exchange programs.

The 287-140 vote came during a week when the parties were vying for the high ground in anti-drug policies. Many Democrats said the GOP-backed bill was political posturing that would cripple programs proven to stop the spread of AIDS.

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the action was needed to counter ``a deadhead president that supports a program that gives free needles to drug addicts.''

The House action came just nine days after the White House announced that it would continue to ban federal money for needle exchange programs while recognizing that such programs have been effective in fighting the spread of AIDS without encouraging illegal drug use.

Linda Ricci, spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the GOP bill was ``unnecessary and unwarranted.''

The Health and Human Services secretary ``should have the authority to determine the merit of such programs and ... the decision on which HIV prevention strategies to use should be in the hands of state and local officials,'' Ricci said.

The issue divided the administration. HHS Secretary Donna Shalala encouraged local communities to expand the 110 needle exchange programs now operating in 22 states while drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey argued that the programs jeopardize the administration's war on drugs.

Clinton's surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, said he was ``disappointed'' funds would not be available for effective needle exchange programs.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus last week called for McCaffrey's resignation, saying lives would be lost if needle distribution is halted.

But Republicans said the administration policy was consistent with its failure to get tough on drugs. They disputed scientific studies concluding that needle exchange programs are working.

``The Clinton administration's endorsement of needle exchange programs is part of an intolerable message to our nation's children sent by the White House that drug use is a way of life,'' Said Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y., a sponsor of the legislation.

Democrats accused Republicans of rushing a bill to the floor without hearings to make a political point.

``This legislation is a travesty and a blight upon true medical science and it plays into the hands of those who would use the lives of our children and those addicted for political purposes,'' said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

``You'd think we're having a meeting of the flat earth society,'' said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. ``How can we turn our back on science?''

The federal government since 1989 has barred the use of federal funds to provide hypodermic needles and syringes to intravenous drug users.

The legislation, which still needs Senate consideration, would repeal language in a 1998 spending bill that would allow funding if the HHS secretary determines exchange projects are effective in preventing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and do not encourage illegal drug use.

The House vote came as the Republican leadership prepared to unveil Thursday an election-year package of anti-drug proposals, including more money for border guards, tougher penalties and grants to small businesses that fight workplace drug use.

House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri sought to get the jump on the Republicans Wednesday by issuing a nine-page report critical of the GOP record in fighting drugs. ``By making the war on drugs a partisan war, Speaker (Newt) Gingrich is drawing the battle lines against imaginary enemies. The only thing he will accomplish is to reduce the prospects for bipartisan anti-drug legislation in this Congress,'' he said.

The bill is HR 3717.

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..and some recent Congressional Genocide in Progress:

House Nixes Needle Exchange Funding

THURSDAY, September 11, 1997

By a vote of 266 to 158, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill which would repeal the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to allow federal funding to be used to support syringe exchange programs.

The language was included in an amendment to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes most federal AIDS care and research funding. The bill now goes to a conference committee with the Senate, which has not included the provision in its bill.

Members of the conference committee, which will iron out differences in the House and Senate appropriations bills, have not yet been appointed, according to the AIDS Action Council.

Meanwhile, the Senate has passed its HHS appropriations bill. No changes were made to HIV/AIDS-related funding proposed by the Labor/HHS Appropriations Committee and no amendments that would adversely affect the HIV/AIDS community were offered.

In the House, several negative amendments directly affecting HIV/AIDS-related programs and funding were expected during floor debate of the appropriations bill. Of these, two have failed. An amendment to increase AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) funding by cutting the funding for other AIDS services was defeated, 282-141. A second amendment, to transfer $5 million to the Ryan White AIDS Pediatric Demonstration program from Title X family planning was not offered -- the sponsoring legislator failed to introduce the provision at the correct time.

The Coburn/Ackerman (D-NY) amendment to prohibit federal funding of "blind" HIV testing of newborns has not yet been offered, and AIDS Action said its sources say that it might be withdrawn.

December 5, 2001

contact Wayne Turner at (202) 547-9404


Washington, DC -- AIDS activists and pro-democracy supporters strongly condemn the renewal of several budget riders attached to the DC Appropriations Bill, approved by a Congressional conference committee late Wednesday, December 4.

Over two months since the Fiscal Year 2002 began on October 1, the conferees from both the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to renew prohibitions on local funding for DC's clean needle exchange program, and once again approved the Barr amendment which prohibits the District of Columbia from implementing its medical marijuana Initiative 59, which was approved in 1998 by 69% of DC voters.

"The people of DC have decided we want a locally funded clean needle exchange program to help stop the spread of HIV. The people of DC decided at the ballot box that seriously ill patients should have safe legal access to medical marijuana," states ACT UP/DC organizer and Initiative 59 sponsor Wayne Turner. "This congressional appropriations process is illegitimate, anti-democratic, and hazardous to the health of District residents," noting that 95% of the revenue in the DC Appropriations Bill, one of thirteen spending bills passed annually by Congress, is raised through local taxdollars.

After another year of organizing and lobbying, DC activists did win an historic victory. Congress removed a long standing rider, finally permitting the District to implement its Domestic Partnership Law, which was passed by the DC Council in 1992. The 'Health Benefits Expansion Act' allows both Gay and straight couples to register as domestic partners, allowing familial recognition for such things as hospital visits, and allows the partners of DC government employees to purchase private health insurance.

Activists say the win on domestic partnership is an encouraging sign, "This sets an important precedent as we continue to work in removing the Barr amendment on medical marijuana, and the clean needles prohibition," adds Turner.

Early next year, the District's non-voting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is expected to introduce a bill that would grant local control over locally raised tax revenue. "Budget autonomy for DC will mean we won't have to keep fighting these battles year after year on Capitol Hill. These members of Congress aren't elected by the residents of the District of Columbia. It's time they respect democracy in the nation's capital," Turner concludes.

For more information of the District's medical marijuana Initiative 59, visit

For more information on the Coalition efforts to Free DC's budget, visit



U.S. Representative Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma-Coburn is infamous for his "HIV Prevention Act" which would have created a national registry of the names of all people with HIV) has been successful in passing an amendment to the House's version of the Health and Human Services Appropriations bill.


There is a ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange. The federal government pays for most disease prevention efforts in the US. Studies have demonstrated that the lack of an adequately funded program of syringe exchange has caused 100,000 unnecessary infections.

Right now, US Secretary of Health and Human Services HHS Donna Shalala could lift the deadly federal funding ban with an executive order. We believe that this order may be issued after the budget process is completed (IF enough activist pressure continues to be applied). Some positive movement from the administration was shown earlier in the year when HHS was authorized to release a report that admitted the ability of syringe exchange to dramatically lower rates of new infection without contributing to increases in drug usage.

Tom Coburn's amendment would remove Secretary Shalala's ability to lift the funding ban on syringe exchange. This would mean that only Congress would have the power to lift the ban.

Effectively, this means that all hopes for federal funding for syringe exchange would be permanently crushed.

Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997
NEEDLE EXCHANGE? NOT YET . . . but here's more money for HIV prevention


The House/Senate conference committee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education came to an agreement on needle exchange on Friday, October 31st. While the Joint Conference DID NOT ELIMINATE the Secretary's waiver authority to determine whether federal funds can be used for needle exchange, the Joint Conference FROZE the Secretary's' ability TO FUND needle exchange programs until April 1, 1998. Remember that the Senate bill protected the current Secretary's waiver authority. The House bill struck this authority altogether.

Additionally, guidelines have been attached to the use of Federal funds for needle exchange (few outside the committee have seen the language yet. I will post them as soon as I get them). Rumored to be among these guidelines are a) language which requires a State Health Official to certify to HHS that the needle exchange program is ëpart of a comprehensive HIV prevention plan; b) language which specifies that funds must be used for ëexchangeí rather than ëdistributioní, with some definition of what exchange means.

Delaying, or freezing federal funds for six months gives conservatives time to pass legislation, probably through an amendment to a larger bill, which would eliminate Shalalaís authority altogether. Representative Hastert has already stated his intention to do so. Such an amendment may be a part of anti-drug legislation.

Congresspersons should be urged to resist legislation or amendments to legislation which further restricts Federal funding for needle exchange. It is highly inappropriate to amend drug policy appropriations with a needle exchange amendment, since NEP is an HIV prevention measure. Now is also the final hour for Shalala to finally certify that NEP does not encourage drug use, which she has ample evidence of (the same studies which show NEP reduces HIV transmission), a determination which would probably have some influence in Congress, and pave the way for Federal funding for NEP on April 1st.

[Not incidentally, the Labor, HHS, Ed. subcommittee also approved $280 million in AIDS funding increases, including an additional 17 million for HIV prevention. These numbers are higher than either the Senate or the House versions of appropriations requested. Unfortunately, without realistic or appropriate HIV prevention for injectors (injection-related AIDS constitutes the majority of new cases) we will need to triple our AIDS budget in five years to adequately meet the need.]

thanks for your ongoing clarifications, and your ferocious work on both funding and needle exchange. still the results taken as a whole are frightening-- congress continues to be willing to spend increasing amounts of money to care for the sick, but cant come anywhere near realistic programs to prevent new infections. how do we celebrate this? six months means 33 new infections per day (estimated new infections caused by NEP funding ban) x 180 days, or 5940 new infections; at what is it, $200,000 average medical cost per person w. AIDS from infection to death, the cost of the 'compromise' comes to 1.19 billion dollars. sort of dwarfs the 280 million bucks of new funding, eh? at what point will Congress refuse to pay for cases which they should have prevented in the first place?

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>the conditions that shalala must certify are the current conditions PLUS that the programs are operating in compliance with specific criteria she sets down. period.. n more, no less. the law also makes clear, by word and NOT by anything more detailed than the use of the word <exchange>. so, legally, we are talking about needle exchange, but the term is neither quanitfied (i.e. one-for-one) nor qualified (i.e. it does not detail examples of types of needle exchange programs).

without any clear explanation, the word 'exchange,' technically, IS one-for-one. what else can exchange mean, dictionary-wise?

>now, the problem of hastert using the AUTHORIZING process to screw us has ALWAYS been a reality. he could do this AT ANY TIME AND JUST MIGHT. SO, WE SHOULD NOT CONFUSE THE ACTIONS OF THE APPROPRIATORS AS ANYTHING MORE THAN ONE PART OF CONGRESS DOING WHAT THEY ALWAYS DO. but, chris is correct that we now, unfortunately, now have three, distinct problems on our hands where we only used to have two.

>we have always had to fear authorizing legislation. and we will continue to fear it. secondly, we have always had to fear the appropriators hurting us. in some respects, while the compromise ain't the end of the world, it ain't no picnic either. the moratorium is just that -- a freeze on funds. needless infections. deklays in stopping new infections and setting up new programs. that is not a new threat, just an annoying reality of the stupidity of congress.

>but now, we have a thrid problem (although always a problem, now even more problemmatic). and that problem? shalala. are we in fact fighting for an authority she will never exercise? when, oh when will we be told the freaking timeline to exercise the waiver authority?

>and by the way -- the moratorium on the new bill does NOT take away her ability to certify, just the ability for money to flow. so, i say she should do what she should have done -- lift the ban now.

Look, Shalala's answer to people, like the members of the Presidential Commission on AIDS, who complain about the needle exchange ban, is to say, 'you should be grateful for the amount of stuff we've given you already.' Now we get extra funding from Congress, particulary in ADAP, to funnel extortion monies to drug companies to care for those who are ill, and the entire AIDS advocacy community leaps for joy! At what point are we going to send the message to shalala and our friends in Congress that NOTHING is more important than getting over the neuroses about realistic prevention measures, or whatever funding they appropriate now for AIDS care is peanuts in light of what's gonna be required in a short few years.

Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997

H.R. 2264-49

Quote from Appropriations bill passed in Congress over the weekend.

Sec. 505. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, no funds appropriated under this Act shall be used to carry out any program of distributing sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug. Sec. 506. Section 505 is subject to the condition that after March 31, 1998, a program for exchanging such needles and syringes for used hypodermic needles and syringes (referred to in this section as an ìexchange projectî) may be carried out in a community if--

(1) the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that exchange projects are effective in preventing the spread if HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs; and

(2) the project is operated in accordance with criteria established by such Secretary for preventing the spread of HIV and for ensuring that the project does not encourage the use of illegal drugs.




Distribution of Sterile Needles

Both the House and Senate bills contained restrictions on the use of federal funds for the distribution of sterile needles for the injection of any illegal drug (Section 505). The Senate bill repeated language from previous appropriations bills allowing the Secretary to waive the prohibition if she determined that such programs are effective in preventing the spread of HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs. The House bill removed the Secretaryís authority over the issue.

The conference agreement includes the House bill language prohibiting the use of federal funds for carrying out any program for the distribution of sterile needles or syringes for the injection of any illegal drug. This provision is consistent with the goal of discouraging illegal drug use and not increasing the number of needles and syringes in communities.

The conference agreement also includes bill language limiting the use of Federal funds for sterile needle and syringe exchange projects until March 31, 1998. After that date such projects may proceed if 1) the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that exchange projects are effective in preventing the spread of HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs; and 2) the project is operated in accordance with criteria established by the Secretary for preventing the spread of HIV and for ensuring that the project does not encourage the use of illegal drugs. This provision is consistent with the goal of allowing the Secretary maximum authority to protect public health while not increasing the overall number of needles and syringes in communities.

With respect to the first criteria, the conferees expect the Secretary to make a determination based on a review of the relevant science. If the Secretary makes the necessary determination, then the conferees expect the Secretary to require the chief public health officer of the State or political subdivision proposing use federal funds for exchange projects to notify the Secretary that, at a minimum all of the following conditions are met: 1) a program for preventing HIV transmission is operating in the community; 2) the State or local health officer has determined that an exchange project is likely to be an effective component of such a prevention program; 3) the exchange project provides referrals for treatment of drug abuse and for other appropriate health and social services; 4) such project provides information on reducing the risk of transmission of HIV; 5) the project complies with established standards for the disposal of hazardous medical waste, and 6) the State or local health officer agrees that, as needs are identified by the Secretary, the officer will collaborate with federally supported programs of research and evaluation that relate to exchange projects.

It is hoped that the delay in implementation of the provisions with regard to exchange projects will allow the authorizing committees sufficient time to conduct a complete review and evaluation of the scientific evidence as well as any conditions proposed by the Secretary, and consider the need for legislation with regard to these programs. It is the intent of the conferees that the Appropriations Committees refrain from further restrictions on the Secretaryís authority over exchange projects after March 31, 1998.

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see ACTIONS: Clinton Zaps

see also: Lift The Federal Ban On Funding Syringe Exchange


see also Congressional Malfeasance on The Coburn Amendments

see also Congressional Malfeasance on HIV Immigration



ACT UP New York