Senate Passes $31.5 Billion Supplemental Spending Bill Containing $200 Million for International AIDS Efforts
The Senate this morning approved a fiscal year 2002 supplemental spending bill (HR 4775) that allocates $200 million to international AIDS programs, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The bill originally contained $100 million in funding for global AIDS programs, but the Senate voted 79-14 to pass an amendment by Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) that doubles the funding to $200 million (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/7). The Senate rejected a proposal to allocate an additional $500 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 6/7). AIDS activists were disappointed with Frist's decision to propose only an additional $100 million for international HIV/AIDS programs, instead of the $500 million he had originally considered allocating. "We are deeply disappointed at Sen. Frist's action. Despite the security implications of the AIDS epidemic, Sen. Frist undercut what had been promising bipartisan momentum for an appropriately expanded U.S. response," Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said (Global AIDS Alliance release, 6/6). The House-passed version of the supplemental spending bill contains $200 million for international AIDS programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). The bill now goes to a conference committee between the Senate and House to work out the differences between the two measures (Dewar, Washington Post, 6/7).
Larger Strategy Coming
Frist last night announced that the Bush administration is preparing a new aid program to fight HIV/AIDS overseas, with special emphasis on providing AIDS drugs designed to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, the Wall Street Journal reports. The administration plans to create a new bilateral program that would be administered by the U.S. government, giving the United States a "more direct role in the management of the funds" than it has with programs such as the Global Fund. Frist said that the United States plans to allocate around $500 million to the new program. Democratic senators who support the Global Fund said that they had been ready to give the administration more discretion in using the funding available in the supplemental spending bill if the amendment allotting the $500 million in additional funding had been passed. Some lawmakers also questioned whether the announcement of the program was "a device to delay funding" to international AIDS programs. But Frist said he was "confident" that the administration would follow through with the new project. Frist said that his proposal for an additional $100 million in international AIDS spending is a "forerunner" to the new program (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 6/7). But AIDS activists were skeptical that the administration would provide funding for the program in the future. "Reportedly, this initiative takes funds from other programs in order to provide in future years small increases in efforts to stop mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus. ... We call on the president to provide new funds instead of taking away funds from other international health programs ... [and] we call on the United States to not simply address mother-to-child transmission but to provide immediate funding for lifesaving, generic antiretroviral medication to save the lives of people living with AIDS, including parents," Zeitz said (Global AIDS Alliance release, 6/6).
Appeal for $500M
Last night on the MTV Movie Awards, Chris Tucker, who won with Jackie Chan for Best Fight Sequence for "Rush Hour 2," during his acceptance speech asked audience members to call their senators to urge passage of the $500 million proposal for international AIDS funding. Tucker said that the recent trip to Africa he took with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Irish rock star Bono "changed my life," and he dedicated the award to the women and children of Africa for their "courage, their beauty and strength." A video of Tucker's speech is available online in RealPlayer.
Global AIDS Spotlight
Kaisernetwork.org will feature special coverage of the XIV International AIDS Conference, taking place in Barcelona, Spain, July 7-12, including Webcasts of select sessions and press conferences, interviews with newsmakers and perspectives from the AIDS frontlines. Coverage will also include in-depth segments on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, HIV prevention and treatment and AIDS fatigue, as well as the steady spread of the virus into Hispanic and African-American communities and populations such as women and children, both in the United States and worldwide. To find out more about how you can make this information available to your colleagues and constituents through your Web sites, listservs and newsletters, please visit http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2002, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call kaisernetwork at (202) 347-5270.