Bush Offers ‘Clear and Correct’ Warning Against ‘Stubbornness’ in Global AIDS Bill Debate, Editorial Says
By calling AIDS prevention in Africa a "right to life" issue, President Bush offered a "clear and correct" warning to congressional conservatives to avoid being "myopic or stubborn" in their beliefs this week while debating an international AIDS bill (HR 1298), a Washington Post editorial says (Washington Post, 4/30). The bill would authorize $3 billion a year for five years to international HIV/AIDS programs, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/29). By pointing out that since he announced his AIDS initiative in January, 760,000 people have died of AIDS-related causes and 1.2 million people have been infected with HIV, he "chastis[ed]" members of Congress who have delayed passage of legislation. The president could have "been more explicit" in criticizing conservatives such as Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) for "emphasizing abstinence to the exclusion of other approaches" to HIV/AIDS prevention, the editorial says, adding that he also could have cautioned conservatives not to offer amendments that would "upend the delicate compromise" reached by bill sponsor Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). In fact, the president seemed to "encourag[e] those putting obstacles in the way of a sensible AIDS plan" by mentioning the Ugandan ABC prevention model, which neither offers a "magic formula for every situation nor depends as much as conservatives suggest on abstinence alone," the editorial says. Bush's message however prompted Senate leaders to promise to vote on the bill by Memorial Day. The editorial concludes, "Let's hope they make good on that, because the casualty count the president cited just keeps ticking up" (Washington Post, 4/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.