Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in honor of the Twenty-Fifth World AIDS Day, which was on Sunday, December 1. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“I thank the gentleman for recognition and understanding the rules of the House. Nonetheless, I would like to say how honored we all are that our special guests, led by Eliseo Medina, are here as part of Fast for Families. I want to join the distinguished Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, in saying, that I too visited Fast for Families and I too fast for immigration. I wear the button. I am so proud our House of Representatives showed its respect to the strength of the message of our guests here today.
“Because immigration is about America. It's who we are – by and large a nation of immigrants. It's the constant reinvigoration of our country. Every person who comes here with his or her hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better future – the optimism for the future, courage to come, to work hard, to play by the rules. That invigorates America and the traditions of family, community and the rest. Really, every immigrant who comes with those values and those goals makes America more American.
“I also rise, Mr. Speaker, to talk about a place where immigration and health come together. And I thank President Obama for lifting the travel ban on those affected with HIV. It had been my original intent to talk about World AIDS Day, which we celebrated yesterday. But I wanted to pay my respects to those fasting for immigration.
“Our work on HIV/AIDS has been a product of bipartisan cooperation in this Congress over a long period of time. In the White House, though, first with President Clinton, we increased the bilateral programs to fight AIDS and helped create, authorize and fund the Global Fund. Then, under the leadership of President Bush, we established PEPFAR and provided the necessary funding to ramp up emergency response to the crisis. President Obama has strengthened those efforts and boosted our investments by law firming the national HIV/AIDS strategy.
“In addition to that, President Obama announced that PEPFAR would not only reach its goal of providing treatment for six million people by 2013, but will exceed that farget by providing 6.7 million people with life-saving treatments. This is a tribute to the leadership of President George W. Bush and to President Obama.
“True today, President Obama went further and signed the PEPFAR and global fund re-authorization bill into law, and I'm proud that President Obama has announced a U.S. commitment of $1 for every $2 provided by other donors – up to $5 billion through 2016. This marks a likely $1 billion increase over previous years. That means more lives saved, quality of life increased.
“Our work is far from finished. HIV and AIDS is a really resourceful disease. That virus, ever mutating, just when you think that we have it in our sights, it changes. So, we have to be resourceful in our approach to the HIV/AIDS virus because we will not allow HIV and AIDS to claim so many lives when we have within our means the science, the prevention, the care the search for a cure – to make a difference. One of the most exciting parts of it is that we will now be able to have an AIDS-free generation of transmittals from mother to child, which is quite a remarkable – among other remarkable aspects of it.
“But this is a really important issue about our values as a country, our concern for people in our community, and globally, across the world, which takes us back to the beautiful reception that our fasters for immigration received when they were here earlier. As a mom and as a grandmother, I would encourage them not to fast very much longer. But I want them to know that we all recognize their sacrifice, understand the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and hope that that will happen soon.
“With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.”