President Bush To Ask Congress for New Bill Containing International HIV/AIDS Funding Cut From Supplemental Spending Measure
As expected, President Bush announced yesterday that he will not release $5.1 billion in contingency spending contained in a fiscal year 2002 supplemental spending bill (HR 4775) but will instead ask Congress to draft a separate spending measure containing funding for some of those contingency items, including international HIV/AIDS efforts, the New York Times reports (Hulse, New York Times, 8/14). The FY 2002 supplemental spending bill, to which the $5.1 billion in contingency funds was attached, passed the House and Senate in July and was signed by Bush on Aug. 2. Bush had 30 days to determine whether or not to authorize the contingency funding, which included $200 million earmarked for international HIV/AIDS initiatives (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/5). Bush said that although he had already agreed to allocate extra money to HIV/AIDS programs and several other projects, he did not want to be "forced to spend" the entire $5.1 billion in contingency funding. "Those who wrote the bill designed it so I have to spend all five of the extra billion dollars, or spend none of it. ... I understand their position, and today they're going to learn mine. We'll spend none of it," Bush said (Archibald, Washington Times, 8/14). He added that he will "work with Congress" to restore funding for international HIV/AIDS efforts and some of the other projects that were contained in the contingency section of the bill (Mohammed, Reuters, 8/14).
Democratic lawmakers criticized Bush's decision, saying that the administration was trying to cast the issue of the contingency funding "as a struggle between the president and Democrats, even though the appropriations had broad Republican support" (Arizona Daily Star, 8/14). AIDS advocates also criticized Bush's decision to withhold the funding. "It's outrageous that due to election-year politics and economic jitters the president now seems prepared to renege on his own promises and sacrifice the needed emergency [HIV/AIDS] funding," Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said. The Global AIDS Alliance said in a press release that by withholding the money, Bush is "de-fund[ing]" a program to prevent vertical HIV transmission that he proposed earlier this year (Global AIDS Alliance release, 8/13).