While two new members of House Appropriation Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee profiled here yesterday voted first for and then against the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, one of the three profiled today is an unambiguous supporter of global health initiatives, having played a pivotal role in virtually all legislation guiding America’s HIV response for more than a decade. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) returns to the subcommittee after a term away, while the subcommittee also gains new Democratic members Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) coauthored legislation that launched the global AIDS response in 2003 with PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, coauthored the bill to reauthorize PEPFAR, led the way in efforts to increase both domestic and global responses to the disease and to eliminate restrictions thwarting global health efforts, including the abstinence provision as a requirement for countries to receive AIDS money, and the ban prohibiting overseas HIV patients from traveling to the United States. A co-founder of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, she called on President Obama in 2009 to increase AIDS funding, in 2010 to increase the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund, and 2011 to announce a new goal of treating 6 million people with HIV by 2013 through PEPFAR. Now in her 15th year in Congress, Lee also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. A social worker, she began her political career as an intern in the office of former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and served in the California State Assembly and Senate before coming to Congress.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) welcomed her appointment to the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, including, among initiatives she looked forward to supporting ones that would “prevent and treat infectious diseases.” In congress since 2005, she led a charge to restore $3.2 million in domestic AIDS funding with an amendment to a 2007 spending bill and pushing to boost funding for medicine for American AIDS patients. She has advocated for investing in research towards a cure. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, she has taught political science, began her political career as a Florida state legislator in 1992 when she began eight years in the state’s House of Representatives, and in 2000 was elected to the state Senate.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) comes to the subcommittee with a history of bipartisan stances and has listed his priorities as “accessibility to constituents, education, healthcare, supporting veterans, serving seniors, providing for small businesses, enhancing homeland security, ensuring border security, advancing trade and taking any other action that supports hard-working families and individuals.” A former Texas state legislator, he also served as Texas Secretary of State, appointed by Governor Rick Perry.