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Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2004 - Resumed

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I rise in strong support of the Durbin amendment.

First, I thank my colleagues and friend from Illinois for his passion and his eloquence and his persistence over and over on the floor, speaking up for those around the world who have no voice in this Chamber and who desperately need our help.

I also congratulate Senator DeWine for his leadership in getting us up to this point.

We are talking about 8,500 people being killed by disease every day—8,500 people today, 8,500 people tomorrow, 8,500 people the next day, and 6,500 in Africa alone. We are seeing HIV/AIDS produce 14,000 new infections every day, and 9,500 which occur in Africa.

If that doesn't tell us there is a sense of urgency to do all that we can do, I don't know what does. When we look at the facts of the more than 30 million people in Africa alone with HIV, only 50,000 have the medicine they need—we hear over and over again from the organizations in Africa that they have the capacity; they just need the resources; they just need our help.

There is no question when you look at the number. Less than 1 in 20 pregnant women have access to services to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The numbers are going on and on.

I urge colleagues to step up and support the promise that we made a few months ago—the promise that we made of $3 billion a year over 5 years, a total of $15 billion, and join together to send a message that we understand the sense of urgency from the people around the world who are so desperate for our help.

I remember just a couple of weeks ago on the Senate floor when we were talking about the Iraqi supplemental and reconstruction, I spoke about delaying a portion of the reconstruction dollars because it was clear from all of the evidence and studies that only $6 billion to $8 billion could be spent the first year. We wanted to divert some of those dollars in another direction for things here at home. We were told on the Senate floor that we needed to keep our full commitment, whether or not the capacity was there, and that we needed to immediately let them know what they had to work with so they could move as quickly as possible. I suggest this is no less; I believe the capacity is there now.

The reality is we need to let the people around the world, and the people of Africa and Americans who are working there desperately trying to make a difference and save lives, know that we in Congress will keep our commitment on behalf of the people of our country.

We are talking about a relatively small amount of dollars for saving literally thousands and thousands of lives.

As the Senator from Illinois said, we have a responsibility to do what we can do. We don't want to be in a position of looking back when the picture is clear about what has been going on and say where were we when we had the chance to save as many lives as possible.

The Durbin amendment needs to be passed, and it needs to be passed now.

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