Global AIDS Bill Faces Obstacles in Congress
April 1, 2003
In his State of the Union speech, President Bush asked Congress for $15 billion to fight AIDS, particularly in Africa. But White House differences with Congress have resulted in postponed votes in both the House International Relations Committee and its Senate counterpart.
The House International Relations Committee, set to vote Wednesday on a five-year, $15 billion package that should win support from both parties, is at odds with the White House over where the money should go. Led by committee Chair Henry Hyde, the House is seeking $3 billion a year and would funnel $1 billion of that in the 2004 budget to the UN's Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The White House has questioned the efficiency of the fund -- even though it recently picked Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson as its chair -- and wants to give it only $200 million a year.
The Global Fund gives money to the UN Population Fund, which is mistrusted by conservative groups because it supports groups that perform or advise women about abortion. Hyde, a leader of anti-abortion lawmakers, has avoided that controversy by not including language, which appears in other foreign aid bills, restricting aid to groups that promote abortion. Conservative groups are not happy with that and are intent on changing language in the bill dealing with condoms.
The bill endorses the "ABC" approach -- abstinence, being faithful and, when appropriate, using condoms -- that has had some success in Uganda. But Connie Mackey of the Family Research Council said it does not go far enough toward making abstinence a priority over condom distribution. Negotiators are also reportedly considering language to make sure religious organizations that promote abstinence and oppose condom distribution will be eligible for AIDS funding.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Dick Lugar is also trying to find a consensus that will satisfy the White House, conservatives and Democrats. "It's going to take a little longer," said Andy Fisher, Lugar's spokesperson.
04.01.03; Jim Abrams
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.