PEPFAR Next Week

The threat to removing the HIV immigration ban comes from a point of order. Here's what can happen:

Opponents of the bill will likely raise a Budget Point of Order against the bill. This is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to kill the bill.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has examined the bill, and – based on its calculations – believes the bill would result in $83 million, over the next ten years, in direct spending in domestic costs – the anticipated costs of additional immigrants to the United States that would result from the provision lifting the statutory ban on HIV-positive individuals coming to the United States.  In order to cover these costs, the bill requires the U.S. Department of State to raise the cost of applying for a visitor’s visa by $1 for years 2010-12 and by $2 for years 2013-2018.  Using very conservative averages of recent years of some 8 million visa applicants per year, such a structure will easily raise over $100 million, thus providing more than sufficient funding to cover these costs. 

The $50 billion authorized in the bill is subject to future appropriations, and hence is not subject to any budget points of order. The bill is PAYGO compliant because it does not increase the deficit over the next ten years.  It is also not subject to a long-term deficit point of order. However, because the costs outlined by CBO were not included in the Senate Budget resolution, a budget point of order vote lies against the bill.  In order to win that vote, at least 60 Senators must vote to waive the point of order.  If that threshold is not crossed, the bill will fail.

The CBO estimate, however, doesn't take into account the taxes that many productive HIV-positive immigrants will pay. But the bottom line is that we need 60 Senators. Please email yours if you haven't.