AIDS Care Bill: A Defining Moment for Dole, GOP

July 20, 1995 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) – As Senate consideration nears for the federal government's medical care and treatment program for people with HIV/AIDS, the Republican leadership heads for a defining moment on this critical issue for gay Americans.

The Ryan White CARE Reauthorization Act is scheduled to come up for floor consideration tomorrow or Monday, and anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has stepped up public attacks on AIDS funding in recent weeks. Helms has asked for time to speak on "relevant social issues" when the AIDS bill comes to the floor. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS), a co-sponsor of the bill, and chief sponsor Senator Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS) will be faced with fending off any negative, anti-gay amendments that Helms may seek to offer.

"This is really a defining moment for Bob Dole," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "He has the opportunity here to demonstrate leadership against what may be the most virulent anti-gay attack on the floor of the Senate this year. He can show that the Republican Party is not dominated by Jesse Helms, but by an overwhelming majority who care deeply about people with AIDS."

AIDS activists have hampered the Ryan White effort attacking Dole in recent weeks rather than working closely with him on securing passage of the bill, which he joined as a co-sponsor in early May. Los Angeles activists have threatened "anti-Dole" demons-trations this month, and ACT UP/San Francisco recently stormed the local GOP headquarters, splattering the walls with red paint.

"The AIDS activists in California have been trying to portray Bob Dole as the problem, when in fact he is the key to swift passage," Tafel said. "They should learn to work with Republicans and stop empowering Jesse Helms with their tactics."