Democrats Say Bush Tax Cut Reduces Funding For Global AIDS Projects
Democrats are blaming the recent $1.35 trillion tax cut for "tightening the federal budget" and siphoning funds from international AIDS work, Reuters Health reports. While the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a fiscal year 2002 Foreign Operations appropriations package that included $474 million for international HIV/AIDS efforts, the amount is about one-third of the $1.4 billion authorized in "compromise legislation" passed two weeks ago by the House Foreign Relations Committee. However, the amount for global AIDS relief passed by the appropriations committee is about $160 million more than what was included in last year's international spending bill. David Serota, a spokesperson for Democrats on the appropriations committee, said that President Bush and congressional Republicans will "be unable to meet" goals for HIV/AIDS relief in the developing world because of the tax cut. "Their budget hasn't left much money for anything, especially for global health and AIDS," he added. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who has "vowed" to increase funding for "multilateral AIDS efforts" from the current $750 million to $1.2 billion next year through floor amendments, said that she was "surprised" that the committee only approved a third of the funding authorized by the Foreign Relations Committee. Republicans, however, said they appropriated as much funding as possible, "given the restraints" of budget resolutions already passed by the House and Senate. Responding to the difference between the authorized and actual appropriation, GOP spokesperson John Scofield said, "We play with real money." The $474 million in the appropriations bill also contains half of Bush's $200 million request for the Global AIDS and Health Fund. According to congressional staffers, the additional $100 million for the fund will be included in upcoming funding legislation for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments (Zwillich, Reuters Health, 7/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.