Senate Majority Leader Daschle Asks Bush to Include AIDS Funding in Supplemental Defense Budget
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has written a letter to President Bush urging him to include in his supplemental defense budget additional funding for international HIV/AIDS programs and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Bush is currently preparing a supplemental budget that would provide between $10 billion and $30 billion in immediate funding for international and national defense efforts (Global AIDS Alliance release, 2/28). In the letter, Daschle notes that illegal drug use has risen in Central Asia, an area he recently visited. Daschle states that according to UNAIDS, the rise in illegal drug use has brought Central Asian countries to the "verge of a major public health and socio-economic development disaster, in terms of large scale epidemics of HIV/AIDS." Daschle calls on Bush to increase funding for bilateral AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs for Central Asian nations. "If we fail to contain the threat posed by HIV/AIDS in these critical countries, they will be less stable and have a much more difficult time finding the resources to stand with us in the war on terrorism," Daschle writes. The senator also requests that Bush increase the United States' contribution to the Global Fund (Daschle letter, 2/25). Daschle's letter comes as religious leaders last week asked the House and Senate Budget Committees for $2.5 billion for global HIV/AIDS programs for fiscal year 2003. Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, applauded Daschle's letter and asked Bush to fulfill the senator's requests. "A proposal by President Bush for $700 million for the [Global Fund] would deserve full, bipartisan support, and it would be fully within the spirit of the authorization of $700 million for the fund approved by the ... House last December," Zeitz said (Global AIDS Alliance release, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.