Although fiscal year 2020 appropriations were passed into law late last month, the matter of where the funding goes—and how much is allotted—is hardly settled on the Hill. Crises, both manmade and natural, have spurred legislators to reconsider their annual dole-out and ponder giving increases, or supplementals, to some agencies, while simultaneously watching the president raid the already-appropriated funds for his own devices.
In light of the president’s agitation of the delicate US-Iran relationship, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby stated that appropriators would consider a supplemental defense provision to support increased military presence in the Middle East. Further, the Chairman suggested supplementals might be considered for additional aid to Puerto Rico, which has suffered devastating earthquakes in recent weeks on top of delayed recovery from Hurricane Maria due to politically motivated stalled aid funds from the federal government. AIDS United stands in solidarity with Puerto Rico and urges the continued support and empowerment of the island, in recovery funds and beyond.
Further, the president is upending the 2020 appropriations agreements by spending more than allotted on building his southern border wall, a campaign promise that, if unfulfilled, could jeopardize his reelection. As the Coalition for Health Funding notes: “President Trump plans to divert five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the border wall project in FY2020 appropriations law. This money would again come from raiding military construction projects and counternarcotics efforts, and would give the government enough money to complete approximately 885 miles of new fencing by Spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration had previously slated for the U.S.-Mexico border.”
President Trump has used this executive privilege before, last year diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects and $2.5 billion from counternarcotics priorities to build parts of the wall. Appropriators, including some Republicans, have expressed disapproval for this disregard of their work, but it is yet to be seen if Congress will take legislative action to limit the president’s discretionary spending powers.
AIDS United will continue to work with local partners and allies in Congress to ensure appropriations agreements are enacted that will support ending the HIV epidemic. Check back to the Policy Update regularly for all the latest on HIV/AIDS programming and funding.