Lee praises Bush for signing new global AIDS law

President Bush was flanked by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Annette Lantos — widow of the late House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo — yesterday as he signed the H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.

“As one of the original co-authors of not only this bill but the original legislation in 2003, it has been a tremendous bipartisan effort to get to this day,” Lee, a co-author of the bill, said in a statement issued shortly afterward. “This bill is the latest in a long string of bipartisan initiatives on global HIV/AIDS that have been born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic. Despite his failings on so many critical issues, the President deserves recognition for working with Congress to enact this important legislation.”

The new law authorizes a $48 billion increase to the program, which Lee said will make it possible to prevent 12 million new HIV infections globally; provide treatment for at least 3 million individuals with HIV/AIDS; treat 450,000 children; and ensure care for 12 million individuals, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Lee said she’ll use her seat on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to “ensure we meet the funding commitments and targets we set out in this important new law.”

The law also removes the statutory ban on travel and immigration for people living with HIV/AIDS. “It’s far past time we got rid of this shameful policy,” Lee said. “I’m glad we were able to remove the statutory ban and pass this bill less than three before the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.