Bush Administration, Congress ‘Walking Away’ From Global AIDS Initiative Funding, Editorial Says
President Bush and members of Congress appear to be "walking away" from a "highly praised" pledge to fund the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative, a move that "will devastate already strained efforts to stem the full gallop of AIDS across the African continent," a Miami Herald editorial says (Miami Herald, 9/14). Although the measure (HR 1298) supporting Bush's global AIDS initiative authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program, the Bush administration has requested only $2 billion. In addition, the Senate on Tuesday rejected 43-51 an amendment to the fiscal year 2004 $137.6 billion spending bill for labor, health and education services (HR 2660) that would have increased by $1 billion the funding for the global AIDS initiative. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), would have added $1 billion to the roughly $2 billion already appropriated by the Senate for the initiative. The Senate in July passed a nonbinding resolution, called the Bingaman amendment, calling for $3 billion to be appropriated in FY 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeds the ceiling mandated in Congress' annual budget resolution. The House has approved approximately $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in FY 2004 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/11). Although Bush seemed to be "walk[ing] the walk" while in Africa in July by pledging $15 billion over five years to the initiative, African leaders and AIDS advocates are now "left to wonder if the speechifying [about the initiative] was no more than a photo-op," the editorial says. The Herald concludes that Congress should appropriate the full $3 billion for the first year of the initiative when the measure goes to conference committee because anything less could "cause irreparable harm, because more people will die -- it's that simple" (Miami Herald, 9/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.