AIDS Bill Runs Into Trouble Again

Posted July 14, 2008 at 5:02pm

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried again on Monday afternoon to avoid a political showdown in the Senate by requesting unanimous consent of the global AIDS bill.

Reid rushed to the floor to move the HIV/AIDS bill, but Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, objected to the unanimous consent request. He said that Republicans would like the opportunity to debate and amend the legislation.

Apparently, Reid feared that a handful of lawmakers were going to throw the Senate into upheaval over the bill, which has the support of the president. The Majority Leader temporarily took the Senate out of morning business, which allows Members to discuss anything and offer legislation unrelated to the pending bill on the calendar.

After making his remarks, Reid huddled on the floor with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to hash out his concerns over what stall tactics Republicans might use to block the global AIDS bill.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) a fiscal conservative who has complained about the high cost of the bill and often employs nettlesome procedural tactics, was in the corner talking to a staffer. DeMint, according to a GOP source, planned to attach an energy measure to the AIDS bill. It’s unclear what will happen now.

Reid and Republicans struck a deal Friday evening to allow certain amendments to the president’s AIDS bill. Several Republicans, including Kyl and DeMint, had criticized the Majority Leader for shutting them out off the amendment process.

As of last week, it appeared the problem was solved. But it seems that DeMint, for one, is still unhappy with that agreement.