Congress Approves FY 2003 Omnibus Spending Bill Including Funds To Fight HIV/AIDS
Both the House and Senate yesterday -- four months after the start of fiscal year 2003 -- approved the $397.4 billion omnibus spending bill, the New York Times reports. The House voted 338-83 and the Senate voted 76-20 to approve the measure (Hulse, New York Times, 2/14). The Associated Press earlier this week reported that the bill includes funds to fight AIDS internationally and to support United Nations Population Fund international family planning efforts. According to unnamed lobbyists and congressional aides, $1.4 billion in aid for international AIDS programs, including $100 million of an $180 million amendment proposed by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). The spending package also includes $34 million for UNFPA international family planning programs, but the money is "unlikely to be spent" because President Bush has the authority to withhold funds, as he did last year. Bush last year withheld the funds over reports that UNFPA "tolerates coerced abortions in China," a claim that the agency denies (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 2/13). Some Democrats were unhappy about the bill's drafting process and said that they were unaware of the bill's contents when they voted on it, the Los Angeles Times reports. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that she voted in favor of the bill "not because I agree with everything in it, but because the alternative is much worse." If the Congress had failed to pass the bill, the remainder of FY 2003 would be funded at the same level as FY 2002, according to Feinstein (Simon, Los Angeles Times, 2/14). Bush has said he will sign the bill "without delay," according to Agence France-Presse (Kniazkov, Agence France-Presse, 2/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.