WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took the congressional fight over HIV/AIDS funding to the floor of the U.S. Senate Friday, seeking to prevent treatment dollars from leaving New York and other big states.

With little time left before lawmakers leave Congress for a month of intense campaigning, the Senate is debating the $2.1 billion Ryan White CARE Act, which the House passed Thursday night.

A handful of senators from New York and New Jersey are blocking the measure, which would cut about $100 million from New York. The Ryan White law funds the largest federal program specifically for people with HIV/AIDS.

Once a big-city epidemic infecting mostly gay white men, the disease is now prevalent in the South and among blacks and Hispanics, and small state lawmakers argue a larger share of the money should be delivered to them.

Clinton, D-N.Y., argued the way to help those patients is not to take funding away from other states like New York.

“You want to take money away from my 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and give it to worthy people in other parts of the country because this administration and this Congress won’t put more money into funding treatment programs for HIV and AIDS,” Clinton said.

She urged the two sides to forge a compromise, arguing the overall dollar value of the bill could be increased to prevent big states from losing money.

The chief backer of the bill, Sen. Mike Enzi, criticized the small number of senators standing in the way.

“New York and New Jersey are stealing the future of those with HIV,” said Enzi, R-Wyo.

On the House side, New Yorkers unsuccessfully tried to derail the bill. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. called it “shameful and disgraceful,” but the measure passed 325-98.

Clinton, Sen. Charles Schumer, and three other Democrats in the Senate are using a procedural maneuver to block the bill, but the clock is ticking.

Congress plans to recess today in preparation for a final month of campaigning in the 2006 House and Senate elections.

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