by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland), July 24, 2001
Chairman, today I rise not only as ranking member of the Subcommittee on
Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources of the Committee on Government
Reform that the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. SOUDER), who just spoke, is
chairman of, so I am very familiar with our efforts to fight drugs all over
the world, but at the same time I stand here as one who was just informed
by my health commissioner that in the City of Baltimore, which is only 45
miles away from here, in my district and three ZIP Codes, we have a level
of AIDS that is approaching very rapidly the levels found in Africa and
third world countries. That is 45 miles from here, less than an hour's drive.
So when the gentleman
from Iowa (Mr. LEACH) spoke a little bit earlier about his concerns about
making sure that we provide a proper defense for this country, that not
only affects the third world but it also affects these very United States.
Mr. Chairman, I rise
today in strong support of the Lee amendment which seeks to add the $60
million to the U.S. contribution to the Global AIDS and Health Fund, and
I compliment her on her efforts and those associated with it.
I would also like
to state for the record that I am disturbed by some of the comments made
about this amendment. I am disturbed because I cannot believe that Members
of this great House have questioned the integrity of the amendment. Last
week I read in the CQ Daily Monitor a quote from a Member on the other
side of the aisle when he said, ``Are they really trying to add money
to HIV/AIDS or trying to cut money from the other side?''
While our efforts
in fighting international narcotics are a very serious issue and concern,
there are many valid issues that must be addressed regarding our role
in the Andean region.
Although I am a supporter
of Plan Colombia, some of the concerns you have heard about today are
valid and need further scrutiny. What is important at this juncture is
finding a cure and stopping the spread of a deadly pandemic. AIDS is an
all inclusive, nondiscriminatory disease that transcends country boundaries,
age, gender, and race.
Experts predict that
more people will die of AIDS in the next decade than have died in all
the wars of the 20th century. It is estimated that $7 to $10 billion are
needed to fight this global AIDS pandemic. Further, I recently read a
statement that and I quote, ``It is a dramatic paradox that the same continent
that saw the appearance of a man 6 million years ago is starting to witness
our disappearance this millennium.'' Yet we continue to quibble over $60
Listen to the statistics.
Worldwide, more than 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. That
is more than the entire population of the great State of California. There
are more than five million new infections each year; 600,000 of those
are in children under the age of 15. By 2010, AIDS will orphan 44 million
children. More than a fifth of all adults in at least four African countries
are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. According to the joint United Nations
program on HIV/AIDS, if the crisis is not addressed, 100 million people
will be infected worldwide by 2005.
I believe that the
Congress and the President's demonstrated unwillingness to increase international
family planning funds and the crushing debt burden these countries face
leave many developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa,
with limited options, thereby exacerbating this devastating health crisis.
Of the 22 countries
who have received debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries
Initiative, two-thirds will spend more on servicing their debt than they
spend on basic health care. As such, those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS
and its related illnesses are left untreated and unaccounted for.
Mr. Chairman, we
have the means and the moral obligation to maintain a commitment to be
leaders and fighters on this issue. As such, I urge my colleagues to support
the amendment of the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE). The funding
is critical to sustaining the role that the Global AIDS Health Fund can
play in eradicating the deadly effects of HIV/AIDS. Let us remain steadfast
in our commitment.
As of October 5,
2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)