Clinton signs bill to step up worldwide AIDS fight
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (CNN) -- President Clinton mixed some business into a private family vacation in the Adirondacks on Saturday, signing into law a bipartisan bill which he called an "important step in the fight against AIDS."
The new law authorizes $300 million for AIDS prevention and education programs, $60 million for the development and delivery of vaccines and $60 million for international tuberculosis control. It also establishes the World Bank AIDS Trust Fund, which will provide grants to countries hit hardest by the epidemic.
"While we're making real progress in the fight again AIDS here at home, we have to do more to combat this plague around the world," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.
"Fighting AIDS worldwide is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing," the president said. "AIDS threatens the economies of the poorest countries, the stability of friendly nations, the future of fragile democracies."
Clinton said AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are the leading causes of death in Africa, and increasingly threaten Asia and the states of the former Soviet Union.
"In the hardest-hit countries, AIDS is leaving students without teachers, patients without doctors and children without parents," he said.
The president renewed his call for Congress to approve his proposal for a vaccine tax credit, which he said would speed up development of vaccines crucial to the developing world.
Clinton hailed the bill as a "symbol of the good we can accomplish when we work together in a bipartisan spirit."
He called on Congress to put "progress before partisanship" when it returns in a few weeks, and pass his domestic priorities -- which include a patients' bill of rights, prescription drug coverage for seniors, tax cuts for middle-class families, hate-crime legislation, tougher gun laws, and a minimum-wage increase.
"These are big challenges, but if we make the tough choices together, we'll keep our progress and prosperity going," he said.