July 17, 2008 in Nation/World

Senate OKs funds for AIDS prevention

By Vimal Patel Los Angeles Times
 

The vote

The Senate voted 80-16 Wednesday to approve 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.

Idaho: Craig (R) no; Crapo (R) no

Washington: Cantwell (D) yes; Murray (D) yes.

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday approved a $48 billion program to treat and prevent AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, tripling the amount set aside in landmark legislation first passed five years ago.

The legislation, approved 80-16, came after an impassioned debate that had stalled for weeks over objections by conservatives about the bill’s cost, the role of abstinence education and control over how money is spent.

Most Senate Republicans joined Democrats in backing the measure, which had the support of the White House. President Bush called for the 2003 initiative in his State of the Union speech that year and favored a renewal of the program this year. In Congress, the effort was seen as an important U.S. foreign policy initiative.

“It’s one of the strongest ways the U.S. has made an impact on a number of countries where our diplomacy hasn’t been effective in the past,” said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

The bill, known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief of 2003, sets an ambitious five-year goal of helping prevent 7 million HIV infections and caring for 10 million people infected with HIV or AIDS.

The program currently supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 1.7 million people living with HIV or AIDS in 15 focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. When Bush called for the program in 2003, only 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa received treatment, the White House said.

Advocates of AIDS prevention and treatment praised the measure. But they also expressed concern about provisions that increase in the amount of money required to go toward abstinence, or “be faithful,” education.

The House passed its version of the bill by nearly a 3-1 margin in April. The legislation now goes to a House-Senate conference committee, where lawmakers can work out differences before sending the measure to Bush.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus