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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Lee-Leach amendment. I thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE) and the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. LEACH) for introducing this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, we have heard about the severity of the AIDS pandemic. It has at this point exceeded in damage to human life the flu pandemic of 1918; and before it is stopped, it probably will exceed the damage to human beings of the Black Death of the 14th century.

There are some countries where one out of every four people is already affected. We still do not have a cure. We have some ameliorative treatments, and those treatments are not affordable to people in most of the developing world. It is the greatest single threat that humanity faces today.

The amounts of money we are spending on it, frankly, put us to shame when we consider the priorities. Any budget is a set of priorities. The Global AIDS Trust Fund in this budget will get $100 million in this bill; another $100 million in the Labor-HHS bill; bilateral aid from AID adds another $247 million, for a total of $447 million proposed in the United States budget.

Mr. Chairman, we are spending about $6 billion a year on missile defense research. Some people think we ought to spend more, some think we ought to spend less. $6 billion for a possible threat; $447 million for an existing mortal threat that is in front of our eyes.

The U.N. has estimated that we should be spending 7 to $10 billion a year, the world, not just the United States, seven to 10 times the $1 billion the world is spending on this now. This modest amendment would add $60 million. The total U.S. commitment would go from $447 million to $507 million in a budget of roughly $1.8 trillion.

Again, look what we spend money on: $6 billion on missile defense. This money, $60 million, is minimal. It is taken from foreign military aid, mostly to Latin American countries which, frankly, is not all that necessary, I do not know about the great military threats faced by Latin American countries, and from drug initiatives abroad which have not cut down the flow of drugs into this country. The threat of AIDS is a heck of a lot more threatening to us than any drug problem could ever conceivably be.

Mr. Chairman, I urge that we adopt this amendment. $60 million is a pittance. The gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE) should have added another zero. It should have been $600 million. But then we would not seriously consider it. But the pittance that is added here is the very, very least we can do so that we can say to our children, we did not ignore the AIDS crisis, the worst crisis to humanity in at least 600 years.

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)
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