U.S. President Bush Signals Flexibility on Global AIDS Bill
April 25, 2003
President Bush has signaled he would accept a $15 billion plan in Congress to fight AIDS globally even if the bill did not include anti-condom amendments being pushed by social conservatives, Capitol Hill aides said Thursday. The bill, scheduled for the House floor next week, designates $3 billion a year for five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, including funds for drugs and other treatment. The bill allows funding of prevention efforts that include condom distribution, abstinence education and programs that encourage couples to be monogamous.
Progress on the legislation has been slowed because of Republicans' efforts to appease the concerns of conservative groups. Several House Republicans plan to introduce amendments that would emphasize funding for monogamy and abstinence over condom programs. Conservatives also want funds to be administered through church-run groups rather than secular nongovernmental organizations. And they want religious groups to be able to opt out of prevention efforts that conflict with their precepts. Bush would be inclined to support those amendments but would also sign the bill without them, said Capitol Hill aides who were briefed by the administration. The White House would not comment on the briefings.
The president's outline for the bill is based on the Ugandan AIDS prevention model, said Scott McClellan, a White House spokesperson. The elements of that model include abstinence, faithfulness and condoms.
The administration signaled its flexibility in February, when Bush allies were told that some of the funding might go to groups prohibited by the Mexico City policy from receiving foreign assistance for family-planning activity, because they perform or promote abortions. The administration has said AIDS treatment programs may not offer abortion services or counseling, but the groups could offer them in separate locations.
Bush's plan calls for spending $2 billion in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. About $10 billion of the $15 billion would represent new commitments. Bush designated $1 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
04.25.03; Mike Allen
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.