On June 26, members of the U.S. Senate pushed for the passage of a bill reauthorizing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), but some Republican opponents continued to block it because of its cost, Reuters reports (reuters.com, 6/26).

The previous day, June 25, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said a tentative agreement had been reached over a debate about the amount of PEPFAR money allotted for HIV treatment and projected that the legislation would be approved by the Senate before President Bush leaves for the Group of Eight Summit in Japan, July 7-9.

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has threatened to block the bill’s passage because of expense. “Senator DeMint objects to a huge increase in deficit spending and the lack of real oversight to ensure funds are going for medical purposes to help those in need,” said a DeMint spokesperson.

The proposed boost in PEPFAR funding—from its original $15 billion to $50 billion over five years—would provide treatment for an estimated 3 million to 5 million people living with HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.