The Senate passed the PEPFAR bill!

***NOTE (Aug. 1): President Bush signed this bill into law this week.

Yes, yes, YES!!!

After weeks of stalls, blocks, holds, and all variety of obscure legislative wrangling . . . PEPFAR FINALLY MADE IT THROUGH THE SENATE!

From the Associated Press:

The Senate voted Wednesday to triple spending for a much-acclaimed program that has treated and protected millions in Africa and elsewhere from the scourges of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

The 80-16 vote committed the United States to spending up to $48 billion over the next five years for the most ambitious foreign public health program ever launched by the United States.

[If you want to see how a particular senator voted, the AP is reporting that here.]

From the White House Press Office, President George W. Bush had this to say about the PEPFAR bill’s passage:

I thank the Senate for the strong, bipartisan vote today to pass important, life-saving legislation reauthorizing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  I appreciate the efforts of Majority Leader Reid, Senators Biden and Lugar, and all other Senators from both sides of the aisle who came together today to ensure that America’s generosity in battling HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases around the globe will continue in a manner consistent with the program’s successful founding principles.

When we launched this program in 2003, about 50,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa were receiving anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS. Today, PEPFAR supports life-saving anti-retroviral treatment for more than 1.7 million people around the world. PEPFAR has also supported treatment and prevention programs that have helped HIV-positive women give birth to nearly 200,000 infants who are HIV-free.  PEPFAR is the largest international health initiative in history to fight a single disease.

Traveling in Africa earlier this year, Laura and I had our most recent opportunity to witness the effectiveness of this program. We were honored to see the doctors, nurses and caregivers of all faiths working to save the lives of their fellow citizens. And we met the patients, including many children, who understand and appreciate America’s generosity.

With passage of today’s new bill we are one step closer to ensuring that this excellent program continues to help those in need.  I encourage the full Congress to move quickly to send me final legislation that I can sign.

It’s also worth noting that included in the bill passed by the Senate includes a measure that “would reverse a policy that has made it difficult for HIV-positive foreigners to visit or seek residency in the United States,” according to the Associated Press.  This and other changes Senators made to the legislation “will have to be worked out with the House.”

I’ll keep tracking this story.  But for now . . . yes, yes, YES!  It finally passed.  Hallelujah, amen.

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~ by h.e.g. on July 16, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Senate passed the PEPFAR bill!”

  1. Such good news! Looks like the House will try to vote on it and send it to President Bush within a week, and we won’t have to worry about that particular legislation for a while.

  2. This is most excellent news.
    I would love to see what $48 Billion looks like in aid though. (that would make for some good posting on your behalf)
    I really hope this isn’t another political “scheme” for corporations to make money through the poor.
    Thanks for the post
    (and thanks for reading my blog)
    Ron

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