2010 Election: A Brief Overview
How the 2010 Mid-Term Elections effect HIV/AIDS policies and funding.
The dominant news last week was the 2010 elections. The Congressional mid-term election results were historic. The Republicans gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives with the Democrats experiencing the biggest mid-term loss by a party since the 1938 election, also at a time of economic crisis, the Great Depression. The Democrats did manage to hold onto the majority in the U.S. Senate while losing 6 seats. As of mid-day Friday (Nov. 5), the Republicans have 239 seats in the House and the Democrats have 187 seats. Nine races are still undecided. In the Senate, the Democrats have 53 seats and the Republicans 46, with one race undecided.
Whether one considers the mid-term election results a wave or a tsunami, they were significant and likely will have a deep impact on health care reform and HIV/AIDS-related policies, programs, and funding levels. AIDS Action in Washington is still sifting through the results to gain a better understanding and analysis. They will provide in-depth reviews of the results and the possible significance over the coming weeks.
One example of how the election is likely to affect possible legislative activity in the House can be seen by reviewing a July 2009 vote on the ban on the use of federal funding for syringe exchange. In that vote, 218 members voted to allow federal funding of syringe exchange subject to some restrictions. It was one of only two direct votes on an HIV/AIDS issue in this Congress. The other was the vote to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act in October of 2009 (which passed the Senate unanimously and with only token opposition in the House). Most other HIV/AIDS related legislation was passed by being included in larger bills such as the health care reform bills or through appropriations bills.
Of the 218 Members who voted in favor of ending the ban on syringe exchange, 35 votes appear to have flipped from a Democrat to a Republican suggesting that the new Members may vote against syringe exchange in the future.
This likely means that members of the advocacy community will need to concentrate on working to ensure that the ban is not restored. Those efforts should include maintaining the votes of Republicans such as Steven LaTourette (Ohio’s 14th District in the northeast corner of the state) so federal funding for syringe exchange continues to have bipartisan support. Advocates will also need to work hard in the Senate to find champions to oppose restoration of the ban. The Ohio AIDS Coalition will join with AIDS Action to continue advocacy to support syringe exchange.
With the 2010 congressional election results, increased funding for domestic HIV and AIDS in Congress likely will be difficult to accomplish in the next budget (FY 2012). The incoming Republican majority has expressed the desire for fiscal restraint in federal spending, which it sees as a mandate from the elections. So far, Republicans are sticking to campaign vows to slash spending for domestic programs immediately by at least one-fifth - $100 billion in a single year. Many economists say such deep cuts could strain the economy further and that any large spending cuts should await full recovery. Another suggestion that has been made is to bring federal spending down to FY 2008 levels.
Adequate federal funding for HIV/AIDS is a top priority of the Ohio AIDS Coalition and AIDS Action and we will maintain strong advocacy to support the highest possible level of funding.
Although partially eclipsed by the Congressional elections, the statewide elections were no less significant. Republicans will be in the driver’s seat for the Congressional House redistricting process in Ohio. That means they will decide on new Congressional House districts lines after census data is released and Ohio loses an expected 2 of our 18 Congressional House seats.
In addition, both the state legislative and gubernatorial results will affect how health care reform and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy are implemented at the state level.
This information gathered by AIDS Action & The Ohio AIDS Coalition