House Committee Approves $1.43B in Global AIDS Funding for FY 2004; Rejects Amendment To Add Additional $1B
The House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved a fiscal year 2004 $17.1 billion foreign aid spending bill including $1.43 billion to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The House so far has approved $2 billion for AIDS in FY 2004, an increase of about $500 million over FY 2003 spending (Holland, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/16). The full House on July 10 approved a bill (HB 6470) to provide funding for labor, education and health programs, including $644 million for foreign AIDS research and prevention and $155 million for combating other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis. The money will go to fund the five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative (HR 1298), which Bush signed into law in May. The initiative seeks to prevent seven million new HIV infections, provide care for 10 million people living with the disease and provide treatment to two million HIV-positive people. The House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee last week restructured the AIDS plan, reducing funds controlled by a newly appointed AIDS coordinator and increasing the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/11).
The committee voted 33-28 along party lines to reject an amendment proposed by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Foreign Aid subcommittee, that would have added $1 billion in emergency spending for AIDS to the bill. "The president has raised the expectations that we will supply billions of dollars in aid in the coming years and specifically $3 billion next year," Lowey said, adding that Bush and top aides had "repeatedly left the distinct impression that Congress -- not the president -- is to blame for not providing the full $3 billion" (Reuters, 7/16). The committee by a vote of 28-27 also defeated an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) that would have shifted $500 million from the Millennium Challenge Account, an assistance program for developing nations that seeks to encourage economic development, to the AIDS initiative (Hess, CongressDaily, 7/16). The Senate last week passed a nonbinding "sense of Congress" resolution calling for $3 billion to be appropriated in FY 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeded the ceiling mandated in Congress's annual budget resolution (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/11). Mark Isaac, vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said that the committee's "failure to provide full funding is a setback, but it will not weaken the resolve of those fighting to ensure we make good on our promises and get about the business of saving lives" (EGPAF release, 7/16).
Bush Administration Supports $2B
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, defended the $2 billion in appropriations, saying procedures for programs are still being formulated, so there is no need to "overspend," according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/16). The subcommittee last week approved increasing the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund from $200 million to $400 million, an amount that the House Appropriations Committee approved yesterday, according to a Global AIDS Alliance press release (GAA release, 7/16). The committee approved the increase despite a letter sent yesterday to Kolbe from Joe O'Neill, director of the White House National Office of AIDS Policy, which states that the Bush administration "strong[ly] supports" its $2 billion FY 2004 request for "all" international HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria activities, "including $200 million for the Global Fund." In the letter, O'Neill said that the amount "is a solid first step" in funding the president's five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative. He added that efforts to fight HIV/AIDS "need to be coordinated, deliberate and should scale-up in stages to efficiently and effectively create the necessary training, technology and infrastructure base needed to ensure the long-term success of this initiative" (Letter text, 7/16). Kolbe said that $2 billion will be sufficient to start the initiative, adding that he expects Congress to appropriate the full $15 billion over the life of the program, Reuters reports (Allen, Reuters, 7/16). GAA Executive Director Paul Zeitz said that it was "an outrage" that President Bush -- rather than "accept[ing] the increase for the Global Fund" -- "had to actively discourage increased spending ... at a time when the Global Fund is facing a massive shortfall" (GAA release, 7/16).