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  • Pepfar Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013

    by Senator Nancy Pelosi

    Posted on 2013-11-19

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    PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his kind words.

    It is just that I have been here such a long time, when I first came to Congress, the mere mention of the word ``AIDS'' on the floor was something I thought was the most natural thing to do but was something that some of my colleagues squirmed at. We have, indeed, come a long way from that time.

    So today is a proud day as Democrats and Republicans come together to extend and reauthorize our efforts to fight the global HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases in the poorest countries around the world.

    I thank Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for working together to bring this important legislation to the floor today, and I thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her unwavering leadership on these issues since day one that you came to the Congress. So many of our colleagues deserve recognition, and the gentlewoman has acknowledged some of them.

    I will just add that this marks the 10th anniversary of the historic Tom Lantos and Henry Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act. This legislation has been the foundation of the U.S. initiative to provide sustained constructive leadership in the global fight against AIDS.

    The original PEPFAR authorizing legislation, followed by the excellent work of the Appropriations Committee over the last decade, has provided lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, care, and prevention for millions of people, especially focused on the most vulnerable infants and children.

    I have traveled on this AIDS issue for a very long time in our country and abroad, and I have seen firsthand the difference that PEPFAR has made. I have been to clinics, as have my colleagues Mr. McDermott, Congresswoman Lee, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, Congresswoman Christensen, as well as others who are here, and now newer Members, Messrs. Himes and Cicilline.

    What was wonderful about it was we went to places where people were so poor and so desperate, but they were not so desperate that they were without hope. And PEPFAR gave them hope because, as they said, Originally we wouldn't even want anybody to know that we had AIDS. Why would we even be tested for AIDS? People found out that we had AIDS, but why would we even come to a clinic? What hope did we have? Well, PEPFAR gave them hope. It gave them a path.

    So today we know--and Congresswoman Lee mentioned some of the figures. Some bear repeating and some others I will mention: Treatment for over 5 million people; antiretroviral drugs for 750,000 pregnant women living with HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV averted 230,000 infant HIV infections in 2012 alone; HIV testing and counseling for almost 47 million people; and this [[Page H7236]] year, the 1 millionth baby will be born HIV-free because of PEPFAR support. That means a child that might have been born HIV-infected.

    Congresswoman Lee mentioned that Dr. Goosby lives in her district. His parents and where he was raised is in my district. So we all take great pride in his work.

    Over the years, we have made tremendous progress. First, with President Clinton, we increased the bilateral programs to fight HIV/ AIDS, and we helped create, authorize, and fund the Global Fund. Then, under the leadership of President Bush--and this has to be a source of great pride for President Bush and an important part of his legacy--we established PEPFAR and provided the necessary funding to ramp up the emergency response to the crisis.

    And I might add my thanks to Bono for the role that he played in, again, ramping up the resources and making sure the public understood, as did those of us in elected office and especially in the executive branch, where maybe this was a newer issue to them, that we needed to have the resources to make this happen. So thank you to Bono. Not only did he help us with the loan forgiveness to some of these same countries, but now to the alleviation of poverty, the eradication of disease. That is part of his agenda. And he worked with us to enhance our efforts.

    President Obama has provided leadership as well and has strengthened those efforts and has boosted our investments to put us on the brink of an AIDS-free generation. President Obama also is to be commended for lifting the travel ban on those with HIV, enabling the International AIDS Conference to return to the United States in 2012.

    I remember, as a brand-new Member attending the conference in 1987 when this ban was in existence, it was an embarrassment that scientists could not come here or people coming here with HIV/AIDS from whom we could learn and there could be scientific collaboration. Well, that was not allowed because of the travel ban. So thank you, President Obama, for lifting it so that we could have a truly scientific, truly comprehensive conference in 2012 in the United States, very proudly.

    Today the Congress will pass legislation to extend our global AIDS investment. Even in these difficult fiscal times, we know that cutting back is a false economy that costs us more in the future. HIV/AIDS is still adapting, and so must we. It is a very resourceful virus. It just keeps finding ways, mutating and finding ways, and we have to be more resourceful in our fight against it.

    I thank the authors of the legislation, to the chair and ranking minority member, for bringing the bill to the floor and adapting our policies to meet the continued challenges posed by AIDS, TB, malaria, and deadly diseases around the world. I am so pleased that we will probably have a unanimous vote on this important bill, and that is, indeed, an honor to be a part of.

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