So when President Obama signs the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act this morning (11:50am EST), will he also fully repeal the travel ban that keeps HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country or becoming citizens? That’s what’s expected. But wait: Doesn’t that mean Obama will be knocking down a law without Congress’ approval? (UPDATE: Obama did it.)
It would seem so.
Congress OK’d the then-six-year-old law in 1993, back when AIDS was still reason enough to get scurrrred about shaking hands with someone who’s positive. Last year, Sens. John Kerry and Gordon Smith, along with Rep. Barbara Lee got a reversal on the ban through Congress, but before President George W. Bush could finalize everything (he signed it into law), his term expired.
Which appears to be how Obama will clean up some unfinished business without having to get lawmakers to issue another reversal: Just pick up where Bush left off.
The Office of Management and Budget and the Health and Human Services Department are already working on what happens post-repeal.
And if Obama makes good on rumor and kills the travel ban while re-upping billions of federal dollars for AIDS treatment and prevention programs, well, won’t we have one less thing to bitch about?
UPDATE: Obama just did as expected, signing the Ryan White extension, and the end of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban. The new rules take effect in January — as the Department of Health and Human Services is given 60 days to enact the new rules — meaning HIV status is no longer a factor in issuing visas or immigration papers.
OBAMA’S FULL REMARKS on the next page.