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Last Updated:10/03/01
Speech by Rep. James A. Leach
(R-Iowa), July 24, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment.

First, let me congratulate and thank my good friend, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE), for her leadership in this effort; and I would also express my deep respect for the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. KOLBE) for his commitment in this area.

I know it is awkward for the Committee on Appropriations, after putting substantially more money into this process, to have Members come to the floor and ask for more. But let me explain why I think this is important.

If one were sitting on the moon and were to look down at this country and the world at this time, it is hard not to conclude that the greatest difficulty we have is disease control, particularly AIDS. Our Surgeon General has said that this is going to be the largest pandemic in human history, exceeding that of the bubonic plague of the 1300s and the epidemic of flu in the early part of the last century which both killed over 20 million people.

Twenty-two million have now died from AIDS, and in Africa alone 25 million have the HIV virus. Obviously, this is a disease that knows no borders. Obviously, it cannot be contained in continents. It is rapidly spreading into the subcontinent of Central Asia, into Southeast Asia, into the former Soviet Union. Over 1 million American citizens have the HIV virus.

Mr. Chairman, now with regard to where the resources for this amendment come from, this is a very modest amendment. It takes about $60 million from a military interdiction program in Peru and from foreign military sales.

Intriguingly, from a national security perspective, one of the great questions is, is the security of the average American citizen going to be more likely protected with giving guns and bullets to others at the turn of this century or through dealing with this disease in this kind of way--expecially when those guns and bullets apply to foreign military sales, not provisions for the military of the United States of America?

Finally, let me say why it is with some concern that I rise with the gentlewoman. In the last Congress, the Committee on Banking and Financial Services established a World Bank AIDS Trust Fund and authorized a substantial sum of money. Unfortunately, the appropriations process did not come forth with the matching obligation.

So what the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE) and I are attempting to do is to meet the beginning of that obligation in a much more serious way. This is the will of the Congress in an authorizing sense, and it is our view it ought to be matched in an appropriations way.

Finally, let me just say that it is self-evident that we have a humanitarian crisis, but it also is an economic crisis. It is a national security crisis. It is a crisis that has to be dealt with on a worldwide basis. That is precisely what the leaders of the world met this last week to talk about. It is precisely what this Congress has to deal with today.

As of October 3, 2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)
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