Will we finally see action on PEPFAR?
PEPFAR was on the move – sort of – last week, and might finally finish its long journey through the Senate within the next several days. I’m finally posting an update because I finally figured out what’s happening. I think.
According to a Kaiser Network article from July 10, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday filed a cloture motion that sets up a vote on a bill (S 2731) to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief on Friday, CQ Today reports. Reid said he would try to move the vote to Thursday, saying that he has grown tired of the chamber’s failure to solidify a deal.”
Apparently Reid failed to get that done on Thursday. But it’s okay! Late Friday afternoon (July 11) . . . aha! progress!!
In the Senate’s own words (note the tortured prose style), it agreed on a “Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider S. 2731; Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.”
Naturally, my first response to this was, “huh??” Legislative lingo goes right over my head, so for help I turned to my Official Washington Correspondent, also known as my friend Katy, a former poli sci major who works for a non-profit in DC. (This post on the Christianity Today blog was also pretty helpful in making sense of the situation.)
So, what’s cloture? According to Katy (I’m quoting directly from an IM session here), “Cloture is a vote to limit debate, and you need 60 votes so you can avoid a filibuster.”
Basically, Reid (and most of the rest of the Senate) wanted to vote on the PEPFAR re-authorization, but Senator Kyl (from Arizona) objected. If someone wants to keep a piece of legislation from moving forward, they can start a filibuster – Reid and company wanted to make sure that couldn’t happen. Again, according to Katy: “once they invoke cloture, it limits the time left to discuss the bill, so any potential filibuster is headed off at the pass.”
The cloture motion passed on Friday afternoon, right before everyone went home for the weekend.* According to the Senate schedule, consideration of the PEPFAR legislation will be the first order of business on Monday.
I hope that means it will get through. The vast majority of the Senate supports re-authorization, so unless its opponents have more tricks up their sleeves (which I really, really, really hope they don’t), a successful end should be in sight. This I hope and pray.
Hopefully my next PEPFAR update will contain happy news. Many thanks to our “Washington Correspondent” for bailing me out of my legislative ignorance. (And Katy, if I’ve messed anything up, please correct me.)
For previous posts on PEPFAR re-authorization, you can look here.
* 65 senators voted in favor of the cloture motion. Three – Barrasso (R-WY), Kyl (R-AZ) and Sessions (R-AL) voted against it. 32 (including, interestingly, Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint) didn’t vote. You can find a complete list here.