During the primaries, one of the policy differences between Obama and Clinton was that Obama supported an end to the federal ban on funding needle exchange programs. That's great; those programs have been proven to reduce HIV infection rates, and there's sound evidence that they get drug users into treatment programs and connect them with social services. The opposition is the standard conservative response to a program dealing even tangentially with drugs: this will subsidize drug abuse. There's no evidence that it increases drug abuse rates, but, hey, being conservative means not having to care about the facts.
Which is why it was upsetting on several levels to see it removed from the White House's website. Obama obviously knew that such programs were a net positive for America and the countries our foreign aid serves, but the political will to push for it was gone. It got worse when his proposed FY 2010 budget included the same language that was included since the Reagan Administration to maintain the ban.
Fortunately, Congress is acting on the issue. Appropriations Chair David Obey (D-WI) has removed the language from the House version of the budget. Just to see if this would pose a problem for the White House, I called them up and got this statement:
The President supports Chairman Obey's proposal to lift the federal ban on funding for needle exchange programs. The science clearly shows that such programs can reduce HIV infections.
So it all sounds like it's moving right along. If this does get repealed, kudos to Obey for being a voice of reason willing to stand up to War on Drugs rhetoric.