Every year thousands of babies, predominately from poor African-American families, are born at risk of developing HIV. Many of these children develop HIV related infections that could have easily been prevented by prenatal testing and treatment. States that have implemented HIV testing for infants have seen their infections rates drop dramatically. Such success even inspired Congress to pass the Ryan White Early Diagnosis Grant Program. The program authorized $30 million in funding to states with infant HIV testing in order to ensure that these vulnerable children are protected.

The program was created just two months ago yet someone has already included language in the appropriations bill to prohibit funding for the Baby Aids program. Section 20613(b) of H.J.Res. 20 states:

(b) None of the funds appropriated by this division may be used to: (1) implement section 2625 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300ff-33; relating to the Ryan White early diagnosis grant program)...

This provision does not save any money but simply prohibits funds to help identify these toddlers. In fact, the funding was already included in President Bushs FY08 budget request. So why would anyone insert this language into the bill?

Earlier this week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attempted to add an amendment to restore the funding. Unfortunately, Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) never allowed the amendment to be included before the bill reached the Senate floor for a vote.

One would think that protecting sick babies is an issue that both Democrats and Republicans would fully endorse. So who inserted this language? And why wasnt Sen. Coburn's amendment added? Every American who cares about children should be asking that question and demanding that Congress give us an answer.

Other blogs discussing this issue: