PEPFAR under debate in the Senate

Time for a quick mid-day update.  At this very moment PEPFAR legislation is under debate in the US Senate.  (I’ve been listening on-and-off to the debate, broadcast live on C-SPAN’s website.)  According to the Kaiser Network:

The Senate on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on several amendments to legislation (S 2731) that would reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, CQ Today reports. According to CQ Today, the amendments aim to “chip away at the scope and $50 billion cost” of the legislation. One of the amendments, sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) would limit the program to 15 low-income countries where PEPFAR already is operating. “The bill doesn’t prohibit funding for China and Russia and India, countries that are quite wealthy and have their own nuclear weapons and space exploration programs,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said, adding, “Certainly, we ought to limit the funding of the bill to countries that need the money.” Another amendment sponsored by DeMint would reduce the bill’s cost to $35 billion (Graham-Silverman, CQ Today, 7/14). […]

On Monday, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defended the bill’s cost and said that the chamber should avoid toying with the measure. “Most (U.S. officials) believe that adding new restrictions to the law can limit the flexibility of those charged with implementation in 2009 and beyond,” Lugar said, adding, “In my judgment, the dollars spent on this program can be justified purely on the basis of the humanitarian results that we have achieved. But the value of this investment clearly extends to our national security and to our national reputation” (CQ Today, 7/14).

Couple comments:

  • Sometimes the things people say mystify me.  We shouldn’t provide AIDS funding for China, Russia, and India because they “are quite wealthy and have their own nuclear weapons and space exploration programs”?  Even if you agree that the US shouldn’t fund those countries, what do nuclear weapons and space exploration have to do with it?  All it shows is that the governments of those countries aren’t spending the money going into those things on health care.  Seriously, it doesn’t really matter how “rich” a country is on a national level — the point is whether the people who need access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care resources are actually getting them.
  • In the second paragraph I quoted above, I think Ligar’s comments are spot-on.

I’ll be back with more soon…

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~ by h.e.g. on July 15, 2008.

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