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U.S. Congress Takes Another Step Toward Repealing Ban on Needle Exchange Funding

The U.S. House of Representative and Senate this week passed a joint spending bill that lifts the long-standing ban on use of federal funds to support needle exchange as part of an effort to prevent transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis. The proposed legislation does not include a prohibition against needle exchange sites within 1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, and other facilities used by children, which advocates said would have prevented needle exchanges from operating in most urban areas.


Below is a recent announcement from the Harm Reduction Coalition describing the proposal.

Congress Readies Repeal of Needle Exchange Funding Ban

Washington DC -- December 9, 2009 -- A combined spending bill has made it through the House/Senate conference and includes provisions lifting the long-standing prohibition on federal funds for needle exchange programs. Another rider was lifted that prohibited Washington, DC, from using local funds for needle exchange programs within vast areas of the city. The committee which negotiated the final language for the spending bill has modified the language to remove a restriction that would have forbidden funding needle exchanges within 1000 feet of pretty much everything, effectively making exchanges impossible. That effort has been defeated.

There was an effort last night to reinstate the full ban in the conference committee by Representative Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican, which was defeated on a party line vote of 9-5.

A summary from the Senate Appropriations Committee states that the bill: "Modifies a prohibition on the use of funds in the Act for needle exchange programs; the revised provision prohibits the use of funds in this Act for needle exchange programs in any location that local public health or law enforcement agencies determine to be inappropriate."

The combined Appropriations bill is expected to be on the House floor no later than tomorrow. After that, the legislation will be sent to the Senate for action, before the current continuing resolution expires at midnight Dec. 18. The end-of-year spending package is widely expected to pass Congress, removing the 20-year ban on such funds.

The exact language is as follows: SEC. 505. None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to distribute any needle or syringe for the purpose of preventing the spread of blood borne pathogens in any location that has been determined by the local public health or local law enforcement authorities to be inappropriate for such distribution.

12/11/09

 

Source

Harm Reduction Coalition. Congress Readies Repeal of Needle Exchange Funding Ban. Press release. December 9, 2009.