Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Foreign Aid Bill With $1.4B To Fight AIDS; Democrats Will Push for More Money
The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved an $18.1 billion fiscal year 2004 foreign aid spending bill, including $1.4 billion to fight AIDS, but Democrats said that they will push for more money to fight the epidemic, Reuters reports. Additional money for the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative (HR 1298) is expected to be included in other spending bills that the committee has yet to consider, according to Reuters (Allen, Reuters, 7/17). The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved its version of the FY 2004 foreign aid spending bill, which includes $1.43 billion for AIDS. The House so far has approved a total of $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in FY 2004, an increase of about $500 million over FY 2003 spending. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/17). The House, which authorized up to $3 billion for the fight against AIDS, expects to appropriate about $2.1 billion -- a 70% increase in spending over last year's total -- according to the Christian Science Monitor (Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor, 7/18).
Amendment Expected in Senate Floor Debate
The $1.4 billion in the Senate measure includes $700 million for U.S.-run programs under the global AIDS initiative, up to $250 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and $150 million for the International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative, according to CongressDaily/AM (Caruso/Hess, CongressDaily/AM, 7/18). President Bush in June 2002 announced a three-year, $500 million international HIV/AIDS initiative focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Africa and the Caribbean (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/19/02). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, said that when the measure is debated on the floor he plans to offer an amendment to the bill that would increase HIV/AIDS spending by $1 billion (CongressDaily/AM, 7/18). The full Senate last week approved 78-18 a nonbinding resolution calling for $3 billion in 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeds the ceiling mandated in Congress's annual budget resolution (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/17).
The full Senate yesterday passed a $368.6 billion defense spending bill (S 1382), voting 71-24 to defeat an amendment by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) that would have transferred $1.1 billion from defense spending to the AIDS initiative (Guggenheim, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18). Republicans yesterday said that AIDS funding should not be in the defense bill but should be "dealt with in other bills," according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/17). The Senate defense bill will be reconciled with a similar measure passed last week in the House (Guggenheim, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/17). Democrats and AIDS advocates have said that U.S. credibility will be damaged if Congress fails to appropriate $3 billion for the first year of the AIDS initiative (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/11). "Just as we feared, the $3 billion turned out to be an empty promise to some of the most desperate people in the world," Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said (Reuters, 7/17).