House Rejects Proposals to Shift Foreign Aid Spending From South American Antidrug Initiatives to HIV/AIDS
The House yesterday rejected several amendments to the FY 2002 foreign-aid appropriations bill that would have shifted money from American antidrug initiatives in South America to a number of health programs designed to fight HIV/AIDS and "other world health problems," the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The $15.2 billion spending bill sets aside $474 million for international AIDS programs and $676 million for efforts aimed at "fight[ing] drugs and advanc[ing] economic and political stability in Colombia and its neighbors." The $474 million for AIDS initiatives includes $100 million of the $200 million President Bush has pledged for the U.N. Global AIDS and Health Fund. The House voted 240-188 to reject an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that would have shifted $60 million from the South American antidrug initiative and military-aid programs into the U.N. fund. The House also voted 249-179 to reject an amendment proposed by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) that would have reduced military aid to Colombia by $100 million and evenly divided that funding between programs aimed at fighting tuberculosis and "child-survival" programs.
Questioning the Funding
Several House Democrats argued on behalf of the amendments, stating that fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases in foreign countries "should be a higher priority" than antidrug initiatives in South America. "How much more staggering would the numbers have to become for us to respond in a way that is commensurate with the leadership of our country?" Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked. Opponents of the proposals, however, said that the South American antidrug effort "was a vital national security matter" (Abrams, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/25).