Congress’ Action To Decrease Funding Authorized in Global AIDS Initiative Show ‘Compassion Deficit,’ Editorial Says
As President Bush concluded his five-day trip to Africa earlier this month, Congress was taking steps to lower the amount authorized in the global AIDS initiative (HR 1298) by $1 billion in the first year, which "in many eyes, undermines the president's message" and shows a "compassion deficit," a Houston Chronicle editorial says (Houston Chronicle, 7/21). The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an $18.1 billion fiscal year 2004 foreign aid spending bill, including $1.4 billion to fight AIDS; additional money for the initiative is expected to be included in other spending bills that the committee has yet to consider. The full Senate on July 10 approved a nonbinding resolution calling for $3 billion in FY 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeds the ceiling mandated in Congress's annual budget resolution. The House so far has approved a total of $2 billion for the AIDS initiative, including $1.43 billion in its version of the FY 2004 foreign aid spending bill -- which has not yet been approved by the full House -- and $644 million for foreign AIDS research and prevention and $155 million for combating other infectious diseases in a labor, education and health spending bill (HB 6470) (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/18). The Chronicle says that the United States should "live up to its pledge ... in the AIDS fight" because of the "political-military instability that the massive AIDS pandemic contributes to in Africa." In addition, other nations are "watching whether the United States meets its pledges," the editorial says, adding, "Reneging on our part could have serious ripple effects" on the amount of money given by other nations. The editorial concludes, "The politicians in Washington now have to live up to the promises and pay more than lip service to the crisis" (Houston Chronicle, 7/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.