Senate Appropriations Committee Approves $2.4B for AIDS, TB, Malaria Programs
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a $19.5 billion fiscal year 2005 foreign aid bill, which includes $2.4 billion for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs, USA Today reports. The majority of the funding -- which is $200 million more than President Bush originally requested for the programs -- would go to the 15 countries covered under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to USA Today (USA Today, 9/16). However, the committee on Wednesday also approved $150 million in "off-budget emergency funding" for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to the Wall Street Journal (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 9/16). The House-approved FY 2005 foreign aid spending bill included $2.2 billion for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria initiatives. Although the House-approved funding met Bush's request for FY 2005, the House allocated a larger portion of the money to the Global Fund than Bush had requested. Bush's proposed FY 2005 budget includes $2.8 billion for international HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria programs. That amount includes $1.45 billion for the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, which will administer PEPFAR, and $200 million for the Global Fund. Because the House spending bill would double the requested Global Fund contribution to $400 million, less money would go to PEPFAR (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/16). The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday also approved $1.1 billion -- $1.4 billion less than Bush had requested -- for the Millennium Challenge Account, a program designed to encourage poor countries to make political and economic reforms in exchange for aid from the United States, according to the AP/Las Vegas Sun. The House approved a "similar" decrease in MCA funding, according to the AP/Sun (Fram, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/15).
Mark Isaac, vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said, "The AIDS pandemic has far-reaching security and economic implications and must be addressed as an international emergency," adding, "We applaud the committee's commitment to this health and humanitarian crisis and we hope to sustain this increased funding level as we move to conference and final passage" (EGPAF release, 9/15). However, Irish rock star Bono -- founder of DATA, an AIDS, debt relief and trade advocacy group -- criticized the committee for not funding MCA at the amount Bush requested, according to the AP/Sun. "America's Millennium Challenge should be shouted from the rooftops, not left in a suitcase under the bed getting dusty," Bono said. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that Congress should fully fund Bush's MCA request, adding that the program is a "powerful combination of trade and open markets and good government" that is producing results (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/15).