Six months after multiple members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned, President Donald Trump's administration has reportedly fired the remaining 16 members through a FedEx letter.
Established by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the council can have up to 25 members who are appointed to four-year terms by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the White House.
The group is created to include "doctors, members of industry, members of the community and, very importantly, people living with HIV", said Scott Schoettes, an attorney with the LGBT rights organization Lambda Legal. "I would personally be surprised if he even does replace these individuals with his own people", said Mark Leno. Councilmember Gabriel Maldonado told Newsweek the Trump HIV Council firing may have come purely from the president's desire to clear the Council of its remaining Obama appointees. "Like any administration, they want their own people there".
During the Obama administration, almost all of George W. Bush's appointees were eliminated prior to new appointees being named.
Vice President Mike Pence, who has been running the administration behind the scenes as Trump continues his Twitter wars with the media, science, and fellow politicians, is vociferously anti-LGBT and has continuously shown resistance to combating HIV.
Nicholas Carlisle, a council member and executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, agreed that it's not unprecedented for a new president to remove an entire council. "Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes", she said.More news: Oil prices stay near high on strong USA refinery runs, China data
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"Remaining HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump".
PACHA members have had problems with the way Trump runs the council since he took office.
He also noted that numerous dismissed council members whose terms expired earlier this year were sworn back in to their positions months ago - even after Trump signed an executive order which kept PACHA going for another year. The president's 2018 fiscal year budget seeks $150 million in cuts from HIV research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and more than than $1 billion removed from programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Following that mass resignation, Trump was subjected to much criticism for his seeming inaction on the HIV front.