Editorial, Opinion Piece Respond to Hold on PEPFAR Reauthorization Legislation
Two newspapers recently published an editorial and an opinion piece about a group of seven Republican senators, led by Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), that is blocking a vote on measures (HR 5501, S 2731) to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Summaries appear below.
New York Times: If the group's "delaying tactics succeed, the United States will lose considerable leverage in trying to persuade other advanced nations to contribute substantially more money to fight against global disease at the upcoming meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations," a Times editorial says. This will "undermine the Bush administration's leadership in combating the global scourge of AIDS," the editorial says, adding that President Bush should "press the Republican leadership and seven recalcitrant Republican senators to cooperate in an orderly and expeditious vote, unencumbered by a filibuster or the introduction of myriad amendments designed to eat up time." The reauthorization legislation is "currently stalled because Senate leaders seem reluctant to bring it to the floor absent an agreement that would limit debate and expedite a vote," the editorial says, concluding, "Some advocacy groups that don't like specific provisions would prefer to wait for a new president and Congress. But no one can be sure that, in a faltering economy, there will still be bipartisan support for a $50 billion bill next year. It would be best to pass the bill in time to strengthen the president's hand at the G8 summit in early July" (New York Times, 6/21).
New York Post: "As the Washington establishment and the mainstream media paint it, a few conservative senators are holding up the AIDS-relief bill out of ideological crankiness," Mary Claire Kendall, former special assistant to the assistant HHS secretary, writes in a Post opinion piece. However, the "real issue is whether Democrats and the foreign-aid establishment will gut the provisions that have made" PEPFAR "so successful," according to Kendall. She adds that the "White House is eager to keep a program that does so much good going" and "signed off on a weakening of the program's core strategic emphasis on" abstinence and fidelity. "So let's hope Coburn and his allies bring the Senate to its senses and restore the provisions that have made PEPFAR work," Kendall writes, concluding, "The last thing the world needs is another ineffective U.S. foreign-aid program" (Kendall, New York Post, 6/23).