Donna Pandori

AIDS Activist Shut Down Rotunda After Obama Breaks AIDS Policy Campaign Pledge

Filed By Donna Pandori | July 09, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics

Geez, here we go again.

AIDS activists shut down US Capitol rotunda over Obama reversal on AIDS policy.

A group of 26 AIDS activists chained themselves to each other in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday morning, startling visitors, shutting down the landmark area and prompting their arrest by Capitol Police.

The group, which was protesting President Barack Obama's failure to get rid of a ban on funding needle exchange programs, arrived at the Rotunda around 10 a.m.

The administration's response?

Obama, during the primary campaign, pledged his support of needle exchange programs to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS.

When he took over the White House, the administration website affirmed: "The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users."

This affirmation has been removed from the administration's website.

Yet Obama's budget includes language that bans spending federal money on needle-exchange programs.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the administration isn't yet ready to lift the ban - but Obama still supports needle exchange.


"We have not removed the ban in our budget proposal because we want to work with Congress and the American public to build support for this change," he said. "We are committed to doing this as part of a National HIV/AIDS strategy and are confident that we can build support for these scientifically-based programs."

This is becoming the administration's common battle cry for not getting pro GLBT legislation passed; "work with Congress and the American Public", "build support for this change." Start shopping for that cane folks.

And for a little salt

He added, "In recent years, Washington has used the budget process to litigate divisive issues and score political points. This practice, which both sides have engaged in, has limited our ability to tackle our major economic challenges. President Obama decided not to play politics as usual with this budget and while he remains committed to supporting the program he wants to address that through the normal legislative process."

Sound familiar? And, what exactly is "the normal legislative process"?

The Center for Global Health Policy is also not very happy:

Another major disappointment for global health advocates is the Obama proposal for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Countries rely on the Fund, in particular, for funding for tuberculosis programs, and so far the Fund has also provided over $600 million for health system strengthening. The Global Fund requested $2.7 billion from the US for 2010, but the Administration is proposing only $900 million, the same level as 2009. Unless Congress goes above the Administration's proposal, the US will miss a major opportunity to use the Fund to leverage more donations from Spain, Germany, and other countries, and AIDS, TB and malaria programs will be stalled.

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