Lee introduces HIV/AIDS bill: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, last night introduced a bipartisan bill to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection in developing countries and eliminate a requirement that one-third of AIDS prevention funds be spent for abstinence-only programs. Lee issued a news release noting an estimated 39.5 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and in sub-Saharan Africa, women make up 60 percent of those infected and 76 percent of infections among those 15 to 24 years old. Her HR 1713, the Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth (PATHWAY) Act of 2007, co-authored by Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., would require the president to address 12 key issues contributing to HIV-infection gender disparities, including lack of access to prevention methods, the stigma attached to HIV, discrimination against women, and lack of education. It proposes increasing access to female condoms; reducing cross-generational sex and early/child-marriage; reducing violence against women; supporting development of micro-enterprise and job-training programs; expanding educational opportunities; protecting property and inheritance rights; coordinating HIV prevention services with existing health care services; promoting gender equality; and encouraging creation and enforcement of equal rights for women. HR 1713 also amends the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 by striking the 33 percent earmark for “abstinence-until-marriage” programs. A 2006 General Accounting Office report found this earmark has forced funding cuts for comprehensive HIV-prevention programs, including prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.
McNerney meets the masses, again: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will hold the next session of his “Congress at Your Corner” tour from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 31, at the San Ramon Library, 100 Montgomery St. Says McNerney: “I want to make it as easy as possible for community members to discuss issues and concerns with me so that I can effectively serve them and address their needs. So instead of asking constituents to come to one of my offices, I am going to go to them.” The Hill describes one of his earlier visits, in Morgan Hill, here.
Pelosi to Bush — ‘Take a deep breath’: At a news conference today on Capitol Hill, a reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, about President Bush’s comment earlier today that Democrats will be to blame if an Iraq spending bill isn’t signed into law by next month’s end; Bush has said he’ll veto a bill passed last week by the House which links war spending to a timetable for withdrawing troops. Pelosi’s reply:
“We take very seriously our responsibility to protect and defend the American people and, in doing so, to strengthen our military. The fact is, the President of the United States, as the Commander in Chief, has weakened our military. And why would he be saying to us: `We are running out of money and we need — it is only a few weeks?’ Leadership would have required for him to have anticipated his needs.
“But this is a war without end where the President is used to a blank check. This President is not getting any more blank checks from the Congress. This Congress will hold him accountable for the conduct of this war, and we will have legislation that will give him every dollar he asks for for our troops and more, but with accountability in there.
“And what the President is saying is: ‘Give me the money, but don’t expect me to be accountable.’ So I say to the President: ‘You are the President, we are the Congress. Let’s work together for the American people. Take a deep breath, Mr. President.’”
Miller to co-chair kids’ summit: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, will co-chair a National Summit on America’s Children on May 22 in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan forum to hear from national experts on recent scientific findings and how they relate to early childhood development. Members of Congress, state and local officials will be invited to take part, as will representatives of child and family policy groups. Said Miller, in a news release: “Research over the past decade in the fields of neuroscience and child development shows that during the first five years of life, children’s brains develop dramatically, and the path of this development has a lasting impact on children’s future health, learning, and success. It is critical that we carefully re-examine our public policies to determine if they are adequately helping young children to develop into productive members of our society.”