AIDS Funding Advances on Hill
July 11, 2003
A House panel yesterday approved a 40 percent increase in US funding to fight AIDS abroad in 2004, but Democrats accused President Bush of overstating his commitment to the cause during his trip to Africa. "As we speak, the president is in Africa touting how his initiatives will address these tragedies," said Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.). "These contentions are largely a fraud."Adapted from:
The House appropriations subcommittee for foreign operations approved $17.1 billion for foreign aid and military assistance for 2004. In May, Congress authorized President Bushs full $15 billion, five-year request for fighting AIDS abroad. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he would support spending $3 billion in 2004. But Bush's 2004 budget requested only $2 billion. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer confirmed that first year funding might not reach $3 billion. "But thats a ramp-up issue. Thats typical as funding gets appropriated," he said.
The Senate voted 78-18 yesterday in favor of spending $3 billion to fight AIDS overseas in 2004. The non-binding "sense of Congress" resolution said the sum should be approved even if that meant exceeding Congressional budget ceilings.
Lowey said she will offer an amendment adding $1 billion as an "emergency appropriation" not covered by spending limits when the House Appropriations Committee takes up the matter next week.
Foreign operations subcommittee Chair Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) said he believes the five-year, $15 billion goal can be met, but his hands are tied this year by an overall spending ceiling of $17.1 billion. A congressional official said that limit was set by House GOP leaders, and the White House has not objected to it.
"I have to tell you quite candidly that the president compounds the problem by continuing to talk about $3 billion while hes in Africa," Kolbe said.
Kolbe's panel approved nearly $1.3 billion to fight AIDS in 2004: $30 million more than Bush sought, and about a 40 percent increase over the $893 million approved this year. A separate bill provides an additional $803 million for overseas AIDS and infectious disease research and prevention work by the National Institutes of Health and CDC.
Kolbe's subcommittee also sharply reduced the funds controlled by the new US AIDS coordinator and increased US funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which the United States chairs.
07.11.2003; Dan Morgan