Washington, D.C. – Today the House passed H.R. 6651, bipartisan legislation which extends the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – the most successful U.S. assistance program since the Marshall Plan.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in support of H.R. 6651, the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018.

Twenty years ago, I was honored to serve as chairman of the Africa Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

During my tenure, everywhere I went – particularly in southern Africa – hospitals were full and classrooms sat empty as teachers fell ill. Life expectancy plummeted and economies deteriorated across the continent. Tens of millions of children were orphaned when mothers, fathers, teachers, soldiers, factory workers and health professionals died.

The AIDS pandemic that ravaged sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia was so bad that, in 2000, the U.S. intelligence community identified HIV/AIDS as a major threat to U.S. economic and national security.

To address this, a diverse, bipartisan coalition of administration officials, Members of Congress, faith leaders, advocates and NGOs joined with President Bush to launch the most significant global response to a single disease in history. Authorized by Congress in 2003 and later reauthorized in 2008 and 2013, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – known today as PEPFAR – quickly became the most successful U.S. foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan.

Today, through PEPFAR, the U.S. is supporting over 14 million people with life-saving treatment – helping stabilize societies and shrink the pool of new infections. Over 85 million people have received voluntary testing and counseling, while over two million babies born to HIV-positive mothers have been born AIDS-free.

And by strategically targeting resources and holding partners accountable, PEPFAR has helped reduce new infections among the most vulnerable groups – particularly young women and adolescent girls – by as much as 40 percent.

Just last month, I returned to southern Africa and witnessed the impact of PEPFAR for myself. Parents are surviving, the workforce is recovering and health systems are becoming stronger. This is tremendous progress of which we all should be extremely proud.

But now is not the time for retreat. There remains more to be done. The PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 provides a framework for PEPFAR’s continued success while addressing new challenges.

Among other improvements, this act extends a requirement for the Inspectors General for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct joint oversight and audit plans.

It also extends annual reporting requirements, which contributes to continued and effective Congressional oversight.

The United States cannot – and should not – fight this fight alone. That’s why this act ensures that our programs are complemented by an effective, efficient and accountable Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

This is a sensible, bipartisan approach that will enable the United States, through PEPFAR, to continue to help partner countries expand access to treatment, prevent new infections and achieve epidemic control. I urge my colleagues to support this timely, important, lifesaving measure.”