Opinion Pieces Respond to Recent Developments in PEPFAR Reauthorization Legislation
Washington Post: PEPFAR is U.S. "'soft power' at its life-saving best," a Post editorial says, adding that the reauthorization legislation "sailed through with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." However, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and "six other Republicans have exercised their prerogative to keep [the bill] off the Senate floor," the editorial says, adding that Coburn "wants to mandate that 55% of PEPFAR's money go to treating those" living with HIV/AIDS rather than "preventing new cases and other purposes." The Post writes that Coburn "has a point" and that as the programs expands, it "risks mutating into all-purpose development aid or taking on goals -- such as changing traditional attitudes toward gender -- which are not only culturally sensitive but hard to measure in terms of progress." However, the "compromise legislation ... expands and modernizes American's signature global health initiative," the editorial says, concluding, "Properly implemented under careful congressional oversight, it could add to PEPFAR's proud record. Mr. Coburn and his colleagues should get out of the way" (Washington Post, 6/1).
Wendy Johnson and Jennifer Kasper, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The PEPFAR reauthorization legislation should "reaffirm" the U.S. commitment to the two million people who receive treatment under the program, as well as to the "millions more who are dying right now from lack of access to care," Johnson and Kasper, who have worked for Health Alliance International in Mozambique, write in a Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. "PEFPAR is one of the few positive faces of the U.S. in the world and arguably the United States' most effective foreign policy in the past seven years," the authors write, adding that before the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in July, the Senate should "reauthorize the program at the $50 billion funding level necessary to redouble [U.S.] efforts to prevent the 7,000 new" HIV/AIDS cases and 6,000 related deaths that occur daily (Johnson/Kasper, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/29).
Letter to the Editor
David Bryden, Washington Times: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in a recent Times opinion piece based his "argument on a number of misconceptions," Bryden, communications director for the Global AIDS Alliance, writes in a Times letter to the editor. The total amount in the PEPFAR legislation is "still less than 2% of the discretionary budget, so it is misleading to suggest this bill would bust the budget," according to Bryden, who adds that the "global health programs it would authorize are ... a worthy investment in nonmilitary U.S. leadership." Bryden concludes that DeMint is "right to praise private giving, but the enormity of global disease threats requires urgent government action" (Bryden, Washington Times, 5/30).