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

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by complimenting the chairman of the committee and the ranking member of the committee, along with all the other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee for working in a bipartisan way to put together this compromise.

We heard a very good fulfilling debate about the merits of PEPFAR. I, too, agree that the PEPFAR program is a very worthwhile program. So we agree that this is the right thing to do.

The question is, should we more than double the authorization of this program? Now, the President's budget called for doing just that. And I think you can make a very good and compelling case that this program is so successful that it ought to be doubled. That's not what the underlying bill does. This underlying bill more than triples this program.

I have three concerns about this tripling of this program. Number 1, the spending levels set out in this authorization bill are higher than the recipient countries can even accept. They can't absorb all of this money. We know this from the studies in the field. So even if we hit these authorization levels, we know that the recipient countries cannot even accept all of this money. They can't spend it that fast.

Point Number 2, the Congressional Budget Office has told us that we couldn't even spend this money this fast. So why are we having this kind of an authorization level when our own Congressional Budget Office is telling us that it would take at least 10 years to spend down a $50 billion authorization?

And that brings me to my third point, and that is the budget resolution that passed the floor just 2 1/2 weeks ago. The Democratic budget resolution itself assumes the $30 billion level. The Democratic budget resolution assumes we're funding this at the President's request of $30 billion. In fact, the Democratic budget resolution has a lower level of funding for section 150, the Foreign Affairs program, than even the President's budget does. We don't know what cut they're talking about, but more to the point, why don't we defend the budget resolution that passed this very house 2 1/2 weeks ago?

Mr. Speaker, we support this program. I support this program. It's a good program. It has proven to work. By any metric, by any definition, it's impossible to deny the success of PEPFAR.

The question is, should we be tripling a program when we know full well it breaks the budget resolution, it purports to spend money faster than we can even spend, and those who are receiving this money can't receive it nearly as fast as we're proposing.

[Time: 15:30]

This recommit is not intended to kill this bill. This is a forthwith recommit. This recommit is very simple. It says, rather than funding it at $50 billion, let's fund it at $30 billion. That's the level called for on the Democratic budget resolution. That's the level called for in the President's budget. That's the level that independent experts have said can be justified. So this says go from 50 to 30 forthwith, that's all.

I want to compliment the gentleman, the chairman of the committee, the ranking member of the committee, all of those who worked in a bipartisan basis for this very worthwhile program, but this is a time when we have fiscal problems in America. We have a deficit. We have a looming debt. We need to show discipline in Congress. We should not be tripling funding for programs that we know the recipients themselves cannot receive at this pace and we know from our own independent budget experts that we simply can't spend at this pace.

Let's bring it back down to earth. Let's double it and keep it within reason. That is why we should pass this motion to recommit.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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