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The White House has fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), the council’s executive director, Kay Hayes, confirmed to HuffPost Friday.Six members of the committee had previously resigned in June due to “a president who simply does not care,” one member wrote in a Newsweek op-ed entitled “Trump doesn’t care about HIV. We’re outta here.” 16 members remained, and they were utterly dismissed with a letter sent through FedEx on Wednesday.“Current members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) received a letter informing them that the Administration was terminating their appointments” on December 27, 2017, Hayes told HuffPost in a statement sent via email.“They were also thanked for their leadership, dedication, and commitment to the effort. Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during Administration changes,” the statement read.
Yes, it’s not uncommon for appointees to be let go during a new administration. During the Obama administration, nearly all of George W. Bush’s appointees were dismissed before new appointees being named. However, the Trump firings were odd because of the timing. “Many council members were terminated even though additional time remained on their terms as advisers,” according to one source with knowledge of PACHA.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order renewing PACHA for an additional year as of September, so the firing of the current council without explanation was a bit odd. One of those members – Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif.-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution – noted that it was common for the new administration to “want their own people in,” but pointed out the timing is off.“I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, No. 1? Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year, and we were sworn back in, and three stayed on nearly four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council,” he said.
One of the major reasons contributing to the June resignation of six members of PACHA was the fact the current administration has not appointed a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
In addition to that, the ONE Campaign released a report on the potential impact of the White House’s proposed $800 million cut to HIV/AIDS effort, which would cut the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by 17 percent and slash global health programs by $2 billion, according to CBS News. The impact of the cuts would be so devastating, AIDS experts and advocates predicted that it would “upend progress on curbing the epidemic. “PACHA, a federal advisory committee, was created in 1995 with the goal of “providing information, advice, and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.”
The Department of Health and Human Services published a notice in the Federal Register on World AIDS Day, inviting nominations of members to serve on PACHA. The council can have up to 25 members and nominations are due no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018
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