President Bush Urges Congress To ‘Follow Through’ on Global AIDS Bill
Speaking 11 days before his scheduled trip to Africa, President Bush called on to Congress to "follow through" on funding his five-year, $15 billion plan to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Bush said that he is "absolutely determined to see [the global AIDS plan] through until we have turned the tide against AIDS in Africa." (Hutcheson, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/27). Bush is scheduled to visit five African nations -- Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria -- from July 7 to July 12 to promote economic development and the fight against HIV/AIDS. During the trip, Bush is expected to promote several initiatives that focus on Africa, including his five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative (HR 1298), which he signed into law last month, and the Millennium Challenge Account, which calls for increasing aid to developing countries in exchange for a range of political and economic reforms. The global AIDS initiative seeks to prevent seven million new HIV infections, care for 10 million people living with the disease and provide treatment to two million HIV-positive people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/23). Although Bush's plan authorizes $3 billion a year for five years to HIV/AIDS programs in Africa and the Caribbean, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund, the amount of funding actually appropriated for the fund may be less than $1 billion, as it is contingent upon congressional budget action and the contributions of other countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/23). Congressional appropriators may approve hundreds of millions of dollars less than Bush requested for foreign assistance in fiscal year 2004, which begins Oct. 1. The House subcommittee that oversees aid spending has been allocated at $17.1 billion for FY 2004 spending, which is a 5.5% increase over the current spending level but well under the $18.9 billion the Bush administration requested to fund the initial year of the Millennium Challenge Account and the AIDS initiative. The allocation for the Senate provides $18.1 billion to the foreign operations subcommittee (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/23). Bush also addressed African political and economic issues in his speech (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/27).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.