July 16, 2008
$48 Billion HIV/AIDS Bill passes in Senate
Breaking News: On a vote of 80 to 16, senators approved three-fold increase in budget to fight the virus.
This afternoon, the Senate finally voted on the so-called PEPFAR reauthorization bill.
The Associated Press reports:
The Senate has approved spending $48 billion over the next five years to treat and prevent the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa and elsewhere around the world.
The legislation more than triples the current $15 billion program that has brought lifesaving drugs to some 1.7 million people with HIV/AIDS.
The bill passed by a vote of 80-16. That sets up negotiations with the House on a final compromise. President Bush has been a strong advocate for the global AIDS program.
Also, I received in my email inbox, this news release from the Global AIDS Alliance:
Washington, July 16 -- Today the US Senate passed a crucial bill, backed by President Bush, that reauthorizes the US program on global HIV/AIDS while also authorizing much greater funding for programs to address tuberculosis and malaria.
"The bill is a tremendous achievement, and I commend Senators Biden and
Lugar, who authored the bill, and Senator Reid whose determination to
bring the bill forward was indispensable," said Dr. Paul Zeitz,
Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance.
"The amount per year, about $10 billion, is less than 1 percent of this
year's federal budget, and thas is a small price to pay for a program
that will save millions of lives and foster good will around the world,"
The bill, S. 2731, was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee in
March and was endorsed by both Senators Obama and McCain, but it was
then stalled by several Republican legislators. Today several hostile
amendments were defeated, and the bill was approved 80 to 16. The House
appears ready to approve the Senate version.
"Myths and disinformation were used by Senators Kyl, Bunning, DeMint and
others to try to undermine this bill, but in the end the truth won out,"
noted Zeitz. "This bill will expand American leadership on global
health and foster hope around the world. Once fully funded, it will not
only help poor countries but serve America's interests as well."
The bill lays out a five-year strategy for confronting AIDS, TB and
malaria, while authorizing, though not actually providing, a total
funding level of $48 billion for global health programs. The bill also
lays out a policy framework on such closely related issues as gender,
care for orphaned children, nutrition, and health care worker shortages.
This story will hit the front pages of newspapers tomorrow. Watch for an update soon.