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Reid Sets Tuesday Deadline For Global AIDS Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set a Tuesday deadline to complete work on a global AIDS funding bill, as Republican objections to the measure have stymied a top priority for the Bush administration.

In April the House passed a bill to provide $50 billion over the next five years to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, primarily in Africa.

While the issue is a top priority for President Bush, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and six other Republican senators have held up the measure in the Senate because of concerns over the amount of money that goes to the treatment of AIDS, rather than prevention of the disease.

On Thursday, Coburn told Politico he did not want to comment on the issue, as negotiations were still ongoing with the White House.

Reid, however, was not holding his fire, arguing that each side has had more than enough time to work out their differences and if an agreement could not be reached by Tuesday, he would be forced to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“It is confounding and indefensible that a small group of Republican Senators have placed a hold on this legislation, preventing us from moving forward,” Reid said in a statement issued Thursday night.

“They should have followed the lead of President Bush, Members of Congress from both parties, and a diverse group of world health organizations and nonprofits. They should have abandoned their obstruction long ago.”

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