More Details on the President’s Budget and LGBT People
February 21, 2012 by Andrea Levario, Senior Public Policy Advocate
As we shared last week, President Obama released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, detailing how his administration would like to prioritize spending on the range of government programs, including ones that will benefit the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Now, the task turns to Congress and House Republicans have already made it clear that they won’t be taking too many cues from the president’s proposal.
Congress has the job of crafting the actual spending bills which keep government running, and those are about the only legislative matters which have to get done this year. With the November elections on the horizon, Members will be anxious to finish before September 30, the end of the fiscal year. Like many Americans, we’d like to see Congress work through each of the spending bills, rather than adopting one omnibus bill at the end of the session. Regardless of how they proceed, HRC will work closely with our friends on the Hill and coalition partners to ensure that our community’s priorities, are reflected in the spending bill(s) signed by President Obama.
How did LGBT priorities fare in the president’s budget? We’ve provided an outline below of key spending recommendations. HRC will be fighting to have funding levels increased, or decreased, as necessary to achieve our goals.
Department of Education
The president’s budget includes $196 million for the Department of Education for a new Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students program that would, among other things, support student achievement by strengthening efforts to improve school climate by reducing bullying and harassment. Additionally, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) partially justified their $105 million budget request with a commitment to revitalizing civil rights enforcement, including efforts to issue new guidance and expand technical assistance to ensure educational equity. Such guidance, in the recent past, has addressed prevention of bullying, harassment and discrimination faced by LGBT youth. Another $7 million was included for an Education Improvement Program to combat bias that leads to hate crimes and bullying.
Department of State
The president’s budget increases funds for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) at the State Department from $24.147 million to $24.282 million. The budget notes that DRL continues to defend those who speak out against violations of human rights and protect vulnerable populations, including LGBT people.
Department of Justice
The president’s budget increases funds for the Civil Rights Division (CRD) of the Department of Justice from $144 million to $153 million. The budget notes that this increase will allow CRD to better protect the civil rights of Americans. As part of its plan to better protect the civil rights of Americans, CRD will prioritize work to prevent and address hate crimes, as well as explore new ways to expand equality for LGBT Americans. The budget also increases funds to the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the Department of Justice by $0.5 million. This increase will assist CRS with increasing bandwidth to prevent hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT youth.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The President’s budget provides $330 million for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program, a critical source of housing assistance for low-income people with HIV and AIDS. It also proposes a revised formula for the distribution of HOPWA grants in order to better target funds to areas with the greatest need. Stable housing is critically important to keeping people with HIV and AIDS in care and thereby improving health outcomes.
Department of Labor
The president’s budget provides a $6 million increase for enforcement of labor laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by the Wage and Hour Division. The Division recently published guidance making it clear that employees can use FMLA leave for the care of a same-sex partner’s child.
Department of Health and Human Services
The president’s budget proposes increasing funding for the Ryan White CARE Act by $102 million to raise the program’s total funding to $1 billion. Of this request, $67 million is specifically targeted for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Another $25 million is directed to effort to address high-burden communities and high-risk groups, including gay and bisexual men, Black Americans, Latino Americans and substance users. Part C of the CARE Act, for primary care services, was given an increase of $20 million, while Part D, which funds programs for Children, Youth, Women, and Families, was cut by $8 million. HIV/AIDS prevention was increased by $40 million, in part to help meet the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy; funding for hepatitis prevention remains level at roughly $30 million. Research at the NIH is flat-funded. The president’s Budget would restore $10 million to the HIV Adolescent and School Health program.
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