Senate Majority Leader Will Attempt To Pass New One-Month Stopgap Measure To Avoid Government Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday “he will attempt to pass a ‘clean’ one-month stopgap funding measure at current spending levels when the Senate returns next week, in a bid to avoid a government shutdown,” CQ reports.

The House passed a bill on Saturday that would fund the government through Sept. 30 and cut more than $60 billion from current spending levels. “Senate Democrats have assailed the cuts, instead calling for a freeze at current levels through the end of the fiscal year,” the news service writes. Reid “said a one-month extension of the current [continuing resolution] would give the two sides time to negotiate a deal covering the remaining months of the fiscal year” (Friel, 2/22).

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “said the House will not pass a stopgap bill … at existing rates of spending,” the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports. “The House will pass a short-term spending bill – one that also cuts spending,” Boehner said (2/23). “It is by no means clear that Reid can push a CR at current funding levels through the Senate, no matter how short its duration,” CQ notes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “said last week that he agrees with Boehner and other House GOP leaders that any short-term extension should include spending cuts below existing levels. With Democrats holding only a 53-47 operational edge in the Senate, Reid may be unable to get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles for passage of his proposal,” according to CQ (2/22).

Pediatric HIV/AIDS Foundation Head Reacts To House’s Proposed Budget Cuts

Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, on Tuesday warned that the House’s budget cuts could impact the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide and “have very real implications of life and death in large numbers,” VOA News reports.

If the House budget became law, “PEPFAR estimates that there could be as many as a hundred thousand fewer pregnant women that receive services that protect their babies from the virus. That could result in at least 20,000 infants that are infected with HIV,” Lyons said, noting that providing drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission is far less expensive than providing lifetime treatment for children born HIV-positive. 

The proposed budget cuts “don’t make economic sense. They don’t make political sense. I don’t think they make moral sense,” Lyons said (DeCapua, 2/22).

IPS Examines Bill Aimed At Improving Health Care, Empowering Afghan Women

Inter Press Service examines the Afghan Women Empowerment Act, a bill that “has languished through two sessions of Congress” and is up for debate soon. The bill would amend the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 to provide at total of $45 million to the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs and human rights and non-profit women-led organizations.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said “the funding that would be made available under this bill would be directed toward important needs including medical care, education, vocational training, legal assistance, protection against trafficking, and civil participation,” adding that she feels the U.S. has an “obligation to ensure that women and girls [in Afghanistan] have the opportunities that they were denied under the Taliban.”

Critics of the bill argue that other issues need to be addressed for the bill to be effective. “All the funding in the world won’t help as long as there continues to be fighting,” peace advocate Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war in 2003, said.

The article includes quotes from other advocates for Afghan women (Fatoorehchi, 2/22). Information on the House and Senate versions of this bill is available in Kaiser’s Policy Tracker.

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