Crucial AIDS and Global Health Legislation Stalled in Senate


Washington, DC (Jun 17, 2008) – Press Briefing via Conference Call June 18, 1:00 pm ET

What:

Crucial AIDS legislation has stalled in the Senate, despite broad bipartisan backing. The bill was originally authored in the House by the late Rep. Tom Lantos, whom President Bush will honor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 19.

To honor Lantos, it is crucial that the bill pass the Congress by June 27, as the president requested. This would give the U.S. more leverage at next month’s G8 Summit to secure more contributions from other G8 nations. Unfortunately, the bill is currently being held by a small number of senators, and Senate leadership — including Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — has not yet scheduled the bill for a vote. Our speakers will explain why, from their perspectives, the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global AIDS Leadership Act of 2008 is so crucial. Journalists will have the chance to ask questions of the speakers.

Who:

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu — Nobel Laureate and Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

Annette Tilleman-Dick — daughter of the late Rep. Tom Lantos

Joanne Carter — incoming Executive Director, RESULTS Educational Fund

Paul A. Volberding, MD — director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of California, San Francisco

Paul Zeitz — Executive Director, Global AIDS Alliance (moderator)

When:

Wednesday, June 18, 1:00 pm ET by teleconference.

How:

This call is for journalists only, who can call in from any phone. RSVP by contacting David Bryden at [email protected] or (202) 789-0432 x211. To participate in the call, dial (877) 723-9521 or (719) 325-4794 from outside the U.S. Ask for the “Senate Emergency Call.” A recording and a transcript will also be available.

Why:

In April, the House of Representatives approved a new five-year strategy for the U.S. fight against global AIDS, as well as TB and malaria. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed companion legislation, but the bill has not been voted on by the full Senate. Fourteen Republican Senators recently sent a letter to Senators Reid and McConnell backing the bill.

Today in Washington, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga made an urgent call for the bill’s passage. He said that through the program “Kenya has worked with the U.S. to achieve tangible results, including reduced rates on new infections.”

The current spending level on global AIDS is $6 billion, or, if held steady, $30 billion over five years. This bill would authorize $37 billion for AIDS programs, a 27 percent increase, including the portion of the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund that goes to AIDS. The bill would also authorize a total of $13 billion in funding to fight tuberculosis and malaria, including the TB and malaria portion of the contribution to the Global Fund.

 

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