Senate Committee Could Question Tobias on HIV Prevention During Confirmation Hearings To Be Foreign Assistance Director
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday during confirmation hearings for Randall Tobias to be the new administrator of USAID -- as well as the first director of foreign assistance at the State Department -- could question the nominee on his handling of HIV-prevention issues in his current role as head of the State Department's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, CQ Today reports (Speck, CQ Today, 3/6). Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January nominated Tobias -- the former CEO of Eli Lilly -- for the post, which would give him a rank equal to that of deputy secretary of state and would allow him a planning staff at the State Department. The new director of foreign assistance will oversee all U.S. foreign aid programs, and, although the restructuring does not merge USAID and other State Department programs, the move is meant to bring USAID closer to the department, officials have said. Some HIV/AIDS advocates criticized Tobias' nomination, saying he has favored abstinence-only HIV prevention programs and has not favored inclusion of generic drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/20). "On the central issue of HIV prevention, [Tobias] has caved to political pressures, and that has hurt the effectiveness of the AIDS initiative," David Bryden, communications director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said. Bryden said the reorganization at the State Department could "increase political pressures on assistance programs," adding that he doubted Tobias would be "able or willing to stand up to these pressures" (CQ Today, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.