Bush, GOP Consider Ways to Fight AIDS
April 30, 2003
President Bush spoke Tuesday at an East Room ceremony to champion a $15 billion plan in Congress to help alleviate AIDS in African nations, straddling the prevention approaches favored by longtime AIDS activists and by his conservative political base. The White House, which proposed the initiative as part of its budget for next year, has made clear that Bush will support the bill even if it permits the distribution of condoms, a staple of AIDS-prevention efforts that some social conservatives believe condones promiscuity. The House is preparing to vote Thursday on the bill, which is almost certain to be approved this week.Adapted from:
GOP lawmakers are preparing to try to alter the legislation in two ways that administration officials said they would like. One change would state explicitly that abstinence and marital fidelity should be the main prevention strategies, followed by condom distribution as a last resort. A second change would give religious groups funded under the plan the right to refuse to use any AIDS-fighting strategy they consider objectionable.
The House bill, sponsored by House International Relations Committee Chair Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), largely embodies the White House's plan, although it differs in significant respects. The White House would like to channel $1 billion of the money through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Hyde bill, however, would allocate $5 billion to the fund. And only the House bill would require that U.S. funds pay for no more than a third of any project that the United States subsidizes. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said yesterday that he is "intent" on bringing legislation similar to the House version before the Senate by Memorial Day.
Administration officials said Bush favors an amendment by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) to require that at least a third of the money be spent to promote abstinence. But Democrats warned they may withdraw their support if conservatives go too far in deterring the use of condoms. "There's always a danger of having the agreement unravel," said Rep. Tom Lantos (Calif.), senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee who helped broker the bill with Hyde. "People on our side have equally strong feelings on our preferred approach."
04.30.03; Amy Goldstein; Juliet Eilperin
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.