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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 5, 1996

President Clinton today asked the Congress for $914.3 million in emergency fiscal 1996 supplemental appropriations to provide relief to communities affected by recent natural disasters in the United States and the Virgin Islands, and $52 million to help thousands of people with AIDS live longer and fuller lives.

The devastating disasters include the severe winter flooding in the Pacific Northwest, the blizzard and subsequent flooding in the Northeast, and damaging hurricanes. This request includes $168.6 million for the Department of Agriculture; $165 million for the Corps of Engineers; $100 million for the Department of the Interior; $267 million for the Department of Transportation; $100 million for the Small Business Administration; $103.7 million for the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and $10 million for the Department of Commerce.

Included in today's transmittal to the Congress is a proposal that would increase by $52 million the 1996 budget request for Ryan White AIDS Treatment grants. These funds will be targeted to State AIDS drug assistance activities authorized under title II of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990 and used to purchase medications, including a new class of AIDS therapies called "protease inhibitors," some of which are beginning to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The State AIDS drug assistance programs funded through the Ryan White grants are a lifeline for an estimated 55,000 people with AIDS who do not have prescription drug coverage or who cannot themselves afford the full regimen of costly AIDS medications that can prolong their lives. Unfortunately, the current funding levels for these programs cannot meet the additional demand these and other new drugs may create. Without additional funding above the 1996 request, thousands of people with AIDS could be denied the medications they need.

This request reflects the success of the Administration's AIDS research effort. Through unprecedented collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry, new AIDS drugs are being developed -- and they are being approved by the FDA in record time. Additional promising new treatments may become available in the next few months.

While these medications hold promise for extending the lives of people with AIDS, many are costly. This amendment will help make them available to people who otherwise could not afford them. We hope the Congress will join the Administration in recognizing that we should make available the fruits of our research success to those living with HIV and AIDS.

In addition, other nonemergency requests for fiscal year 1996 were submitted for the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Panama Canal Commission.

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