Senate to Debate White House-Backed AIDS Bill
May 14, 2003
On Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders said they will bring a White House-backed global HIV/AIDS relief bill to the Senate floor later this week. By announcing he will introduce a five-year authorization bill identical to the one that passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), the majority leader, turned aside a bipartisan Senate bill that would have created expanded AIDS relief programs for two years.Adapted from:
The House bill authorizes $15 billion in spending over five years for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in 14 African and Caribbean countries hard-hit by the epidemic, and it potentially triples U.S. overseas spending on AIDS relief. The bill also clears the way for the president to send up to $1 billion in U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; President Bush, however, has said that no more than $200 million should go to the fund each year.
Democrats are vowing to offer an alternative package giving more concrete financing to the Global Fund. Their plan would spend $500 million on the fund in fiscal 2004, with another $500 million authorized to match contributions from other nations. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the minority leader, said Democrats will also try to remove conservative-backed language in the house bill that commits one-third of all U.S. AIDS prevention money to abstinence education. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said he will offer at least one amendment forcing the U.S. government to buy low-cost generic AIDS drugs.
But Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said that acceptance of the Democratic language altering the bill's support for abstinence education or the Global Fund could cause Republicans to offer amendments of their own, possibly setting up a Senate floor fight.
The bill does not guarantee spending levels, and several lawmakers have warned that tight federal budgets could prevent Congress from spending anywhere near the $3 billion the measure authorizes for global AIDS programs next year. Bush recently called for no more than $2 billion in total spending next year.
05.13.03; Todd Zwillich
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.