House votes to extend federal AIDS programs

The House on Tuesday quickly passed legislation that would extend for five years federal programs and funding aimed at combating HIV/AIDS around the globe.

Members passed S. 1545, the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, in a voice vote. PEPFAR is the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the U.S. initiative to help with AIDS relief that was launched under the Bush administration in 2003.

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The bill extends a requirement that the Department of State, Broadcasting Board of Governors, Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Agency for International Development continue to work together on plans to combat global HIV/AIDS.

It also extends funding commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Included in the bill is a requirement that U.S. contributions to the fund are capped at 33 percent, language that is seen as helping to encourage donations from other countries.

"This bill is time sensitive," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). "During the week of December 1st, the Global Fund will convene a donor's conference."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) thanked Republicans and Democrats for passing it quickly, and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) called PEPFAR the "crowning achievement" of the Bush administration.

President is likely to be in a position to sign the bill into law as early as this week, as the Senate passed the same bill on Monday.