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House Approves PEPFAR Reauthorization, Clears Bill for President

On July 24, the House approved, 303-115, the Senate version of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. The Senate passed the bill (H.R. 5501) on July 16 (see The Source, 7/18/08).The bill will be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it into law next week.

The bill reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) (P.L. 108-25), which is set to expire at the end of this year. H.R. 5501 authorizes $48 billion over five years for global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria treatment and prevention, as well as $2 billion for Native American health care. The program currently is authorized at $15 billion.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and cosponsor of the legislation, described the bill as “an opportunity to eliminate a grave threat to international security,” saying, “In its wake, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is leaving a trail of poverty, despondency, and death, which has destabilized societies and undermined the security of entire regions. Since 2003, millions of people have been treated, and millions more have benefited from HIV prevention programs worldwide. These successes are truly remarkable, and serve as a testament to all that can be accomplished when we work together in Congress to find solutions to one of the world’s most pressing challenges. As Americans, we have been given a unique opportunity to help make the world a better place for those who have been victimized by the AIDS pandemic, while simultaneously enhancing our own nation’s security. Americans have led by example, and our success has been measured in human lives saved.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a cosponsor of the bill, stated, “This bill is the latest in a long string of bipartisan initiatives on global HIV/AIDS that have been born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic. Despite his failings on so many critical issues, the president deserves recognition for working with Congress to enact this important legislation…I am so pleased that we were able to eliminate the unjust and discriminatory policy banning HIV/AIDS positive people from entering the United States. It’s far past time we got rid of this shameful policy. I’m glad we were able to remove the statutory ban and pass this bill less than two weeks before the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.”

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