President Bush Signs $397B Omnibus Spending Bill, Including Funding for Global AIDS Fund, International Family Planning
President Bush yesterday signed the $397.4 billion omnibus spending bill to fund every government agency except the Pentagon for fiscal year 2003, which began Oct. 1, 2002, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 2/20). The Associated Press last 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, the bill provides $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 HIV/AIDS Report, 2/14). According to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the bill provides an $80 million increase for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the largest increase for any domestic AIDS program. The bill also includes a $350 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, $150 million more than the president requested. According to SFAF, the extra money was contained in the Durbin amendment (SFAF HIV Advocacy Network release, 2/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.