Bush To Propose $3.2B in PEPFAR Funding for FY 2006, Administration Officials Say
Administration and congressional sources on Friday said that President Bush next month will propose $3.2 billion in funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for fiscal year 2006, one of the few increases in international spending in what likely will be a tight foreign aid budget, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports (Entous, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 1/22). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam. In November 2004, Congress approved a FY 2005 omnibus spending package that included $2.9 billion to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- $99 million more than Bush had requested and much of which would go to PEPFAR (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/6/04). According to congressional officials, PEPFAR likely will "escap[e] the fate" of other foreign aid programs in Bush's FY 2006 budget, many of which "face a near freeze in spending growth, if not outright cuts," Reuters/Yahoo! News reports. Bush is expected to send his proposed budget for FY 2006 -- which begins on Oct. 1 -- to Congress on Feb. 7, according to Reuters/Yahoo! News.
"It is an extraordinary commitment, and we're making good on it exactly the way we said we would," a Bush administration official said about the proposed FY 2006 funding. However, some HIV/AIDS advocates say that the budget proposal "falls short" because Congress had authorized up to $3.8 billion in funding for international HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria for FY 2006, according to Reuters/Yahoo! News. Some advocates say that Bush should commit around $6.7 billion for FY 2006 -- one-third of the estimated global funding needed to curb HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria worldwide. "We see this as a continuation of Bush's failed leadership on global AIDS by underfunding his own initiative and providing only a fraction of what is needed to stop this epidemic," Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 1/22). "In light of the fact that over six million people have died of AIDS since President Bush first unveiled his President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2003, today's announcement is very disquieting," Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, adding, "In a funding process marked by continuous delays, today's announcement leaves many experts in the field of AIDS treatment wondering how decisions are being made for the president's ambitious $15 billion, five year global AIDS treatment plan. We believe this funding level for 2006 is insufficient and all but guarantees that PEPFAR and its agencies will fall well short of its intended and admirable treatment and prevention goals" (AHF release, 1/21). Some Democrats have said that the United States should pledge to spend $30 billion -- twice as much as Bush has pledged through PEPFAR -- by 2008 to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria worldwide, according to Reuters/Yahoo! News (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 1/22).