The great Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Today, through this truly historic, bipartisan legislation authorizing $15 billion over the next five years for overseas care, treatment and prevention of aids, we recognize that our nation has a moral obligation – and a national security interest – in combating the HIV/AIDs pandemic, as well as malaria and tuberculosis.
We ignore the world’s increasing interdependence at our own peril. And frankly, while many of my colleagues have fought for many years to bring needed resources to bear on this problem, their call to arms has not been fully embraced – until now.
The scourge of aids knows no borders. It does not discriminate. It targets everyone of us, infecting some 42 million people around the world, two-thirds of them in Africa. As my good friend, Congressman Lantos, who has worked with Chairman Hyde to bring this legislation to the floor today, stated in the markup of this bill:
This health care crisis ruins families, communities and whole nations, fueling violence and bloodshed across borders. It cannot be contained in one region or one population. And thus it is a global challenge that demands a global, humanitarian response with the United States in the lead.
Ranking Member Lantos, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Chairman Hyde deserve our congratulations and thanks for their leadership in crafting this bill’s balanced approach to treatment and prevention. It is a real commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDs crisis.
And I would hope that amendments to be offered later today that would upset this balance would be rejected. For example, the Pitts amendment would upset the balanced HIV/AIDs prevention approach called for in the bill by requiring that one-third of the prevention funds be used solely for abstinence only programs.
This historic legislation reflects our values, protects our interests and extends a hand of hope to millions of vulnerable people across the world.