Republicans Contribute to DC's AIDS Rate: Norton

Letter lashes out at Republican riders limiting needle exchange programs

By Matthew Stabley
|  Friday, Nov 6, 2009  |  Updated 8:49 AM EDT
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Republicans Contribute to DC's AIDS Rate: Norton

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WASHINGTON -- In a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton blamed Republicans for contributing to the city's high rate of HIV/AIDS.

Responding to Republican efforts to probe the high rate and the use of federal funds, Norton cited Republican riders attached to annual congressional spending bills for preventing use of local funds for needle-exchange programs, The Hill reported.

When the Democrats assumed the majority in the 110th Congress, we removed the needle exchange ban and the District initiated a state-of-the-art exchange health program, but Republicans are again trying to attach a rider that would effectively end the program.

Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz requested an investigation into funding for D.C.'s AIDS programs and services following a Washington Post report of waste and misuse of the funds.

"The congressional investigation they request would not only violate the District's home rule attention to this local matter, but would do so unnecessarily, considering the work underway by city officials," Norton wrote.

Issa and Chaffetz called Norton's claims "absurd and offensive," The Hill reported.

"Equally absurd and offensive is her attempt to deflect attention away from corruption and incompetence by D.C. city officials who mismanaged this program by shifting blame …" the pair said in a letter to the Committee.

D.C.'s AIDS/HIV rate reportedly is at least 3 percent, compared to the national rate of 1 percent.

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