House Approves Foreign Aid Bill With $1.4B To Fight AIDS; Defeats Amendments for Increased Funding
The House early this morning approved 370-50 a $17.1 billion fiscal year 2004 foreign aid spending bill (HR 2800), including $1.4 billion to fight AIDS but defeated amendments from Democrats that would have shifted funds from other sources to the global AIDS initiative, Reuters reports (Allen, Reuters, 7/24). The AIDS money included in the bill 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/17). The House Appropriations Committee last week approved the foreign aid bill, which includes $1.43 billion for AIDS, with up to $400 million going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 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, 7/18).
The House yesterday rejected 228-192 an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), that would have shifted $300 million to the global AIDS initiative from the Millennium Challenge Account, an assistance program for developing nations that encourages democracy and development through economic aid. The final version of the foreign aid bill reduced by $500 million the $1.3 billion requested by President Bush for the Millennium Challenge Account (Abrams, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/23). White House officials had said that Bush would veto the entire foreign aid bill if the House further decreased funding for the Millennium Challenge Account, which is "also a high priority of the president," the New York Times reports (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 7/24). The House defeated 226-195 another amendment that would have shifted $75 million to the global AIDS initiative from the U.S. effort to curb drug trafficking in Colombia (Reuters, 7/24).
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said that Bush's veto threat "proves one thing -- that the president had no intention of fully funding our AIDS commitment." She added, "The rhetoric surrounding the signing of the HIV/AIDS bill and his trip to Africa was hollow. The House ha[d] an opportunity to prove today that our commitment is real by increasing funding to fight AIDS. We shouldn't [have taken] this vote under threat of a veto." Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said, "It's very clear that the White House is directly undermining congressional momentum to get the $3 billion" authorized in the global AIDS bill. Zeitz added, "American credibility is at stake." But Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said that $2 billion "was more than enough" for a new program, according to the Times. "Let me make that crystal clear. This administration and this subcommittee are committed to spending $15 billion to prevention and life-saving treatments for those afflicted with AIDS around the world. This $2 billion is only our first installment in that program," Kolbe said (New York Times, 7/24).
The Senate is set to consider similar appropriations measures, Reuters reports (Reuters, 7/24). The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved an $18.1 billion FY 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. The $1.4 billion includes $700 million for U.S.-run programs under the global AIDS initiative, up to $250 million for the Global Fund and $150 million for the International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative. Additional money for the global AIDS initiative is expected to be included in other spending bills that the committee has yet to consider. The Senate on July 10 passed a nonbinding resolution calling for $3 billion to be appropriated in FY 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeds the ceiling mandated in Congress's annual budget resolution (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/18).