Conservative Senators Should Not ‘Drag Their Feet’ on PEPFAR Reauthorization, Opinion Piece Says
Conservative Senate Republicans should not "drag their feet and jeopardize" the reauthorization of the President's Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief during the current congressional session, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) writes in a Politico opinion piece, adding, "Delay is not the friend of those suffering abroad or ... of our own nation's health."
Although some lawmakers "balk" at the $50 billion price tag in the PEPFAR reauthorization bills (HR 5501, S 2731), authorizing funding for the program might be "some of the best money Congress can spend," Santorum writes. He adds, "It not only addresses a grave humanitarian crisis, it helps protect our nation" by creating "global goodwill."
Some senators also are concerned with the reauthorization's "focus on social policy," and it is "regrettable" that the new proposal lacks some provisions that protected abstinence funding, according to Santorum. However, he writes that the reauthorization measure actually "strengthens" PEPFAR's so-called "conscience clause," which ensures that groups would not be required to provide HIV/AIDS services they object to for moral or religious reasons. The proposal also maintains provisions that PEPFAR recipients pledge opposition to commercial sex work and excludes language that could possibly allow the use of funds for family planning services, according to Santorum.
PEPFAR "shows the world our heart and that America is a blessing to the oppressed and suffering across the globe," and it "needs reauthorizing now," he concludes (Santorum, Politico, 4/15).