In a poignant op-ed published in the Washington Post on Friday, former President George W. Bush urged Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump to continue funding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an initiative he founded in 2003 that has saved “nearly 12 million lives,” particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
The recent budget proposal put forward by the Trump Administration proposes. an immediate $18 billion in cuts to government programs which includes a $300 million cut from PEPFAR. The White House also wants Congress to cut roughly $1.2 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health this year and calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending.
The document, which follows the administration’s call for a $30 billion boost to defense spending and some funds for border security, including the wall, is “a list of suggested spending cuts” for this fiscal year, according to a Republican aide on Capitol Hill.
“In the past six years, more than 370,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer and 24,000 for breast cancer through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. More than 119,000 girls have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other cancers.” Bush wrote. “Nearly 1,000 health workers have been trained. With the proper resources and international commitment, we could end cervical cancer deaths on the continent in 30 years.”
“Critical to this effort is our Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partner, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” he continued. “My administration launched PEPFAR in 2003 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic that threatened to wipe out an entire generation on the continent of Africa.”
“As the executive and legislative branches review the federal budget, they will have vigorous debates about how best to spend taxpayers’ money — and they should. Some will argue that we have enough problems at home and shouldn’t spend money overseas,” Bush wrote. “I argue that we shouldn’t spend money on programs that don’t work, whether at home or abroad. But they should fully fund programs that have proven to be efficient, effective and results-oriented. Saving nearly 12 million lives is proof that PEPFAR works, and I urge our government to fully fund it.”
“Most of the proposed reductions at the National Institutes of Health would come from research grants,” reports Bloomberg.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) slammed the proposed cuts to discretionary spending bills in 2017 through a reduction of funding to HIV/AIDS research
Lee described parts of the president’s proposal as “morally bankrupt” and warned that Trump’s “proposed reductions to PEPFAR and other HIV/AIDS programs would be a humanitarian catastrophe.”
“These cuts continue to erase LGBTQ people by cutting vital #HIV and #AIDS research,” tweeted Ross Murray, director of programs at Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “Research, education, testing and treatment are how we are going to get to 0 new infections. The Trump budget will set us back.”