U.S. Aid Plan Comes Up Short
June 23, 2003
For months, President Bush has basked in praise for ambitious proposals to boost foreign aid and provide treatment for Africans with AIDS. But now, Congressional appropriators appear poised to approve hundreds of millions of dollars less than Bush requested for foreign assistance next year. And as Bush prepares to travel to Africa next month, aid advocates are starting to question whether the president has gotten credit for programs that are not going to be funded at the levels the initial headlines suggested.Adapted from:
Bush's proposals "were historic, but they won't be if they're not delivered," said Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA, an organization founded by Irish rock star Bono that promotes debt relief, aid, and trade fairness for Africa. "The fact is, the president made a $10 billion, three-year promise called the Millennium Challenge Account" -- a program to target new aid to poor countries with sound policies -- "and a $15 billion, five-year HIV/AIDS initiative, and he's received a lot of justified applause. But if those don't get delivered in their first year, the president's promises need to be looked at," said Drummond.
The House subcommittee overseeing aid allocated $17.1 billion -- a 5.5 percent increase over the current year, but well under the $18.9 billion the White House requested to fund current aid programs, MCA, and the AIDS initiative. The Senate allocations, announced Friday, gave $18.1 billion to the foreign operations subcommittee. Although that is higher than the House figure, it signaled to aid advocates that a tough fight will have to be waged to secure overall approval for the two initiatives, while keeping Bush's promise the new spending would be in addition to -- not instead of -- current aid outlays.
"We are confident that Congress will make sure that funding is available for these high priorities," said White House spokesperson Scott McClellan. "It's still early in the legislative process."
But Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said that Congress is unlikely to appropriate the money Bush sought for the coming fiscal year because neither of the new initiatives is ready to spend such sums. "They have not named coordinators, and have to get a staff together for contracting and procurement," said Kolbe. "We will have sufficient funds to do what we need to with AIDS and with the Millennium Challenge Account," he said.
06.22.03; Paul Blustein
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.