House Approves Hyde Bill Allocating $1.3 Billion in Spending for International AIDS Programs
The House yesterday passed by voice vote the Global Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Awareness, Education and Treatment Act (HR 2069), sponsored by International Relations Committee Chair Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.), which authorizes $1.3 billion in funding for international programs to fight HIV/AIDS, the AP/Nando Times reports. The bill earmarks $750 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and $485 million in bilateral aid to support education, treatment and prevention programs run by non-governmental organizations (Abrams, AP/Nando Times, 12/11). The bill also designates $50 million for a pilot program that would provide antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV/AIDS in developing nations and establishes programs to "strengthen and broaden" indigenous health infrastructures to enable developing nations to distribute and monitor antiretroviral drugs. Other funds within the bill will provide assistance to programs to prevent vertical HIV transmission, strengthen and expand hospice and palliative care programs and support AIDS orphans (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10). Hyde said that the United States has a "responsibility to lead the world in confronting one of the most compelling humanitarian and moral challenges facing us today" (Abrams, AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 12/12). Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, applauded the House's approval of the bill, stating that its passage "defines a bipartisan support for new resources to stop global AIDS." Zeitz added, "The Republican-controlled House is taking leadership on this issue and we are hoping that President Bush and Congress will actually provide the new increased funding to stop the devastating impact of the global AIDS pandemic" (Global AIDS Alliance release, 12/11).
Some lawmakers, however, are skeptical as to whether the increased funding will actually materialize, as the authorization bill does not actually release the allocated funds. The current foreign aid appropriations bill circulating in Congress, which determines the actual budget, allocates less than $500 million to be spent on bilateral AIDS programs and only $100 million for the global AIDS fund. Rep. James Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee's foreign aid panel, said he cannot endorse the $750 million allocation for the global AIDS fund, adding, "More funds are possible, but I don't want anybody to have unrealistic expectations [for this year's budget]" (Abrams, AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 12/12). Rep. Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.), one of the co-sponsors of the Hyde bill, said she will try to increase the U.S. contribution to the global AIDS fund to $1 billion (Lee release, 12/11).