Senate Budget Chair’s FY 2005 Foreign Aid Budget Plan Includes $3.7B Increase To Accommodate HIV/AIDS, MCA Spending
Senate Budget Committee Chair Don Nickles' (R-Okla.) fiscal year 2005 budget resolution includes a $3.7 billion increase over FY 2004 levels in spending for international assistance programs, largely expected to accommodate increased spending for President Bush's global AIDS initiative and for the Millennium Challenge Account, an assistance program for developing nations that encourages democracy and development through economic aid, CongressDaily reports. Nickles' proposed increase, which was announced during the Budget Committee's markup of the plan on Wednesday, is less than the $4.3 billion increase in total international spending Bush proposed in his FY 2005 budget plan (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/3). Bush's proposal includes $2.8 billion for international HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs, including $1.45 billion for the new State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and $200 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Congress approved $2.4 billion for international AIDS, TB and malaria programs in FY 2004, $400 million more than Bush had requested (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/3). The difference in the Senate and Bush FY 2005 budget proposals has prompted Republican aides in both the House and Senate to question whether the proposed increase "can survive while cuts are made to [domestic] social programs," according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 3/3). A group of 25 religious, student and advocacy groups on Wednesday sent a letter to Nickles calling for at least $5.4 billion in funding for global AIDS, TB and malaria programs for FY 2005, including at least $1.2 billion for the Global Fund. "Funding AIDS programs at a level commensurate with the scale of the crisis is an essential part of a forward-thinking foreign policy that responds to one of the greatest challenges our world faces and protects our nation's security," the letter says (Letter text, 3/3).
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