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Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008--Continued

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


TOM LANTOS AND HENRY J. HYDE UNITED STATES GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AGAINST HIV/AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, AND MALARIA REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2008--Continued -- (Senate - July 14, 2008)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 5077

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside, and I call up amendment No. 5077 for its immediate consideration.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To reduce to $35,000,000,000 the amount authorized to be appropriated to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing countries during the next 5 years)

On page 130, line 1, strike ``$50,000,000,000'' and insert ``$35,000,000,000''.

AMENDMENT NO. 5078

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 5078 and ask for its immediate consideration.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To limit the countries to which Federal financial assistance may be targeted under this Act)

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC. __. FUNDING LIMITATION.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, amounts authorized to be appropriated under this Act may only be targeted toward those countries authorized for funding under the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-25).

AMENDMENT NO. 5079 TO AMENDMENT NO. 5078

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I send a second-degree amendment to the desk and ask for its immediate consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. DeMint] proposes an amendment numbered 5079 to amendment No. 5078:

At the end of the amendment, strike the period and add a comma and the following:

``and shall not be made available to such countries, or other countries through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for any organization or program which supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilizations.''

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I rise today to speak against this foreign aid bill and in favor of a couple of amendments that will restore some integrity to it.

I wish to make it clear that I believe this legislation aims to do something very important. A lot of people are suffering in Africa with AIDS, and the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief--or PEPFAR, as we call it--is designed to provide treatment and prevention assistance to those in need. This is a program I voted for in 2003, and it is something I think every American would consider a worthy cause. But the simple fact is, we cannot afford every worthy cause around the world. Our budget is broken and our Nation is headed toward financial collapse. Yet this bill spends $50 billion, which is more than a 300-percent increase over the original $15 billion authorization. None of this money is paid for. Instead, it is all borrowed money. It passes the bill on to our children and grandchildren. This is not generosity; I am afraid it is thievery.

So we have conflicting goals. On one hand, we want to help people suffering in Africa. On the other hand, we want to balance our budget and prevent people from suffering in America. As Ronald Reagan said, ``America is a great Nation because America is a good Nation.'' Americans have always prided themselves on reaching out to people in need, and we should do so. However, if we bankrupt our own country, we will no longer be able to extend a helping hand to others. That is why I am offering an amendment--this first amendment, No. 5077--to reduce the spending in this bill from $50 billion to $35 billion. This would still provide a more than 100 percent increase over the original program while maintaining some integrity to our budget process.

The Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Bunning, has an amendment that would reauthorize the program at current levels with no increase in spending. That is something I support because at a time when we need to be dramatically reducing the size and scope of government, just keeping the program at its current spending levels is generous.

My amendment would allow for the program to actually grow from $15 billion to $35 billion. This is still way too much money, in my opinion, but it would save American taxpayers $15 billion over the next 5 years, which is no small amount of money. Besides saving Americans money, this amendment would not actually take a thing away from people in Africa who benefit from this program.

The fact is, this foreign aid program cannot spend $50 billion on its intended purposes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, PEPFAR can only spend $35 billion over the next 5 years to meet the needs of those who are suffering. Our aid workers in many African nations have said as much, and their statements are backed up by the Congressional Budget Office's own estimate of this budget.

In reality, the money that cannot be spent to directly treat and prevent the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria will be siphoned off for other things authorized in this bill, none of which are directly related to the prevention or treatment of these three diseases. For example, the bill authorizes the expenditure of funds to provide legal services, empower women, ensure safe drinking water and sanitation, provide treatment for alcohol abuse, and address the inheritance rights of women and girls, and study transportation patterns, just to name a few. In addition, some of this $35 billion would be siphoned off to build an even larger bureaucracy here in the United States.

One U.S. aid worker in Africa said:

We spend 4 months writing our Country Operation Plan only to send it to Washington and have it rewritten without our input.

Four months of effort for no reason certainly sounds like a waste of effort, and it diminishes our success.

Unfortunately, as we have all seen around here, the bigger the pot of money gets, the more waste and fraud we have, and accountability completely disappears. If we really care about those suffering from AIDS, we need to ensure that as many dollars as possible reach the people who are truly in need. The measure of America's greatness is not found in the amount of money we provide but in the effectiveness of our efforts.

I encourage my colleagues to support my amendment. It saves $15 billion without taking anything away from people who are hurting in Africa. Most importantly, it restores some honesty and integrity to this bill.

Another problem with this bill is that it expands the scope of this program to new countries that were not part of the original program. The bill explicitly adds central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America to the list of PEPFAR's focused countries. The bill also contains vague language expanding the program to other nations.

This is yet another example of the dishonesty of Congress. We say this bill is about addressing AIDS in Africa, but really it is about foreign aid all over the globe. The original program focused on countries that had widespread, generalized epidemics, but this bill allows the program to expand to a number of new countries that have problems only in limited areas. We can fix this problem with the bill by limiting the list of focused countries to those included in the original 2003 authorization.

That is what my amendment does, amendment No. 5078, and this is what it says:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, funds authorized under this Act shall be targeted only toward those countries authorized for funding under the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003.

So we keep the program focused on its original intent.

Last week, the majority leader pointed out that the purpose of this bill is to specifically help people in Africa. According to the Washington Times, he told reporters:

While we're fiddling around here on this in Washington, people are dying. This is big-time stuff, this is very important to one whole continent.

I agree with him, but the bill he has brought up spreads money to more than three continents beyond Africa. If we are going to spend this kind of money, we need to be honest about what we are spending it on. This bill is supposed to be about the treatment of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa. The cost of this program will only continue to increase dramatically if we continue to allow funds to go to other countries.

I have also offered a second-degree amendment to prevent American taxpayers from having to support forced abortions around the world. My amendment simply says that none of the funds in this bill may be awarded to any organization or program which supports or participates in the management of a program of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

In addition to the things I described before that fall outside the stated purpose of the bill, the provision of funds to organizations that perform and/or support coercive abortion in China is perhaps the worst. This not only kills innocent unborn children, it violates the human rights of women in China.

This bill authorizes $2 billion to the United Nations Global Fund in 2009 and designates such funds in the following 4 years. This means that over the 5-year life of the bill, the United States will likely provide at least $10 billion to the United Nations Global Fund.

Restrictions against funding forced abortions are in the current PEPFAR bill, but they do not apply to the Global Fund. We know that the Global Fund has provided at least two large grants in 2004 and 2006 to the various agencies within the Chinese Government, including the National Population and Family Planning Commission, which runs China's one-child-per-family program. In fact, we have here--and I wish to submit them for the record--the grants themselves which explicitly state that they were made to the various agencies within the Chinese Government, including the National Population and Family Planning Commission. I have the number, which I would like to have printed in the Record. One of these grants spent almost $59 million in 2004 and the second was over $11 million in 2006.

It is quite clear that my concerns about how funds can be used in the Global Fund are real and serious. It is very obvious that unless we pass this amendment to clearly prohibit funds, they can and likely will be used by the Chinese agency that carries out coercive abortions.

Instead of working to ensure that the United Nations Global Fund does not provide grants to Chinese Government agencies that force women to have
abortions, the sponsors of the bill doubled the U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to $2 billion.

The Bush administration has fought to prohibit funding to organizations that perform or support coercive abortions. In testimony before Congress on February 17, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said:

We have been outspoken with the Chinese about this terrible practice, and of course, as Secretary of State, I will enforce Kemp-Kasten to make certain that we are not funding anything that remotely as related to these policies.

I just do not believe that either the administration or any Member of the Congress could ever argue that we should not do everything we can to ensure that American taxpayers' money does not go to the Chinese National Population and Family Planning Commission.

Now, many of my colleagues may not believe this because it is so outrageous, but it is true. Many outside groups supporting this bill don't want anyone to know about it because they don't believe we should do anything that restricts abortions--even those performed against the will of the mother. Even some people who oppose spending money on coercive abortions have been convinced to look the other way because they want this bill to pass. We cannot turn a blind eye to this problem with the bill.

My amendment is germane, it is allowable under the unanimous consent agreement, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support it. We need to make absolutely certain that American families are not giving their hard-earned tax dollars to organizations that force women in China and around the world to have abortions.

I encourage my colleagues to support these amendments.

I yield the floor.


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