House Will Approve Senate’s Version of PEPFAR Reauthorization Legislation Next Week, Leaders Say
The House next week will approve the Senate's version of a bill to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, sending the measure to President Bush to sign into law, leaders said on Thursday, CQ Today reports. The Senate on Wednesday voted 80-16 to approve the bill (HR 5501) after substituting language from its version (S 2731). The House Foreign Affairs Committee said that it will accept the Senate version, and Bush is expected to sign the bill (Graham-Silverman, CQ Today, 7/17).
The Senate version of the legislation allocates a total of $50 billion -- $48 billion of which would go to PEPFAR and $2 billion of which would go to American Indian issues. The chamber also adopted an amendment intended to increase oversight of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and encourage cost-sharing and transition strategies as part of agreements with countries that receive PEPFAR aid. The Senate version also includes a provision that would ease U.S. HIV/AIDS travel restrictions.
The House version of the legislation, which would allocate $50 billion for PEPFAR, passed in April. One primary difference between the House and Senate versions is that the House version would allow groups to use PEPFAR funding for HIV testing and education in family planning clinics but not for contraception or abortion services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/17). The Senate bill does not mention family planning programs, according to CQ Today (CQ Today, 7/17).
In addition, the House version includes some spending mandates that are not in the Senate bill, including a requirement that 20% of PEPFAR funding be allocated to prevention. The Senate version includes a provision that more than half of the program's aid go toward HIV/AIDS treatment and care. Both versions would overturn an existing law that requires one-third of prevention funds be spent on abstinence and fidelity programs, instead requiring a report to Congress if countries do not spend half of prevention money on such programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/17). Both measures also would direct 10% of funding to programs for orphans and vulnerable children, as well as allocate $2 billion for the Global Fund in fiscal year 2009. Both bills contain an existing requirement that organizations receiving PEPFAR aid have a policy that opposes commercial sex work. The Senate version would create links between HIV/AIDS and nutrition programs and set a target of recruiting 140,000 health care workers. In addition, both measures would allocate $5 billion for malaria programs and $4 billion for tuberculosis initiatives (CQ Today, 7/17).