Senate Passes Legislation to Increase International AIDS Spending
The Senate on Friday amended and passed a bill (HR 2069) that authorizes nearly $5 billion over two years in spending to help curb the global spread of HIV/AIDS, CQ Daily Monitor Midday Report reports. The Senate-passed bill is a combination of two AIDS-related measures. The first measure (S 2525) authorizes about $4.5 billion in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (CQ Daily Monitor Midday Report, 7/12). The measure, which was sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and supported by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), would also require the United States to develop a five-year plan to reduce AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses, including tuberculosis and malaria, globally (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/14). The second measure (S 2649) included in the bill would give the HHS secretary the authority to implement HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services in developing countries. Sponsored by Frist and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill would direct $400 million to the CDC for treatment and prevention activities, including programs to prevent vertical HIV transmission and transmission at health care facilities. It would also give the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration $40 million to "hel[p] communities develop and institute systems of care and to improve health infrastructure" and $50 million to train health care workers to provide HIV/AIDS services. The Labor Department would receive $10 million to develop programs to prevent HIV transmission in workplaces (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28).
A 'Meaningful' Step
Frist called the legislation "an important step to ending the devastation" caused by HIV/AIDS. "With AIDS already claiming more than 20 million [individuals], we must develop a coordinated response that provides greater investment in prevention, treatment and vaccine development, as well as financial support," he said. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) echoed Frist's comments, calling the passage of the legislation a "very meaningful" step (Carter, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, 7/13). Daschle noted, however, that unless appropriators "work in a bipartisan fashion" to allocate the full amount of the funds authorized by the legislation, the bill will offer "little more than false hope" (CQ Daily Monitor Midday Report). The legislation package, a similar version of which has already been passed by the House, now returns to the House for approval of the "minor" changes made by the Senate (AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/13).
PRI's "The World" Friday reported on the Senate vote. The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online (Bell, "The World," PRI, 7/12).