The ban on admitting foreigners with the virus had been a government policy that Mr Clinton could have changed. The vote, if upheld by the House of Representatives and signed by President Clinton, would turn that policy into a law, and any change would require an act of Congress.
Its most immediate impact would be on 267 Haitian boat people waiting in the US camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Some 230 have tested HIV-positive and the rest are their relatives. The civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has begun a hunger strike in sympathy with the Haitians.