Conservatives Aim to Shift AIDS Bill Away From International Relations
April 10, 2003
Conservative social activists furious with the International Relations Committee's (IRC) work on legislation to fight AIDS in Africa are pressing the Energy and Commerce Committee (ECC) to craft a competing bill more to their liking. This threatens House Republicans' efforts to pass a key part of the White House's foreign policy agenda. President Bush is seeking a bill to devote $15 billion over five years to anti-AIDS efforts.Adapted from:
The ECC is eyeing legislation to address Africa's AIDS crisis. But key insiders say the White House, while somewhat in league with the conservatives, is wary of ceding jurisdiction to the ECC for fear the measure could bog down in a dispute over its funding stream. To claim jurisdiction, the ECC would probably have to link the legislation to the Health and Human Services Department, which the White House does not want to involve in administering the program.
The conservatives contend the IRC legislation does not do enough to stress abstinence over condom use and does not ensure that the money stays out of the hands of nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services. At last week's markup of the bill, GOP conservatives sought to attach language that would address concerns about birth control and family planning issues, but those efforts were defeated because of defections by Reps. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa) on otherwise party-line votes.
The IRC vote prompted some conservatives to uncharacteristically criticize the management of the bill by IRC Chair Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), whom they otherwise regard as a champion of their concerns.
The ECC has already held a day of hearings on the Africa initiative. Committee spokesperson Ken Johnson said, "Before we do anything, [ECC Chair Billy] Tauzin [R-La.] is going to consult with Henry Hyde. Billy has the greatest respect and reverence for Chairman Hyde."
04.09.03; Ethan Wallison