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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Senate Boosts Funds for Africa AIDS Fight
Jim Abrams
October 31, 2003
Associated Press (10.31.03) - Friday, October 31, 2003

On Thursday, the Senate approved 89-1 an additional $289 million to fight AIDS overseas next year. The increase would bring the first installment of President Bush's $15 billion global AIDS pledge to $2.4 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Senators Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sponsored the funding amendment. The Senate later passed the overall $18.4 billion foreign aid bill, after rejecting several other attempts to boost spending to fight global AIDS.

The administration had sought $2 billion for the AIDS initiative for 2003, drawing criticism from AIDS advocates who demanded the full $3 billion allowable under the five-year program. Administration officials argued that $2 billion was appropriate for the first year of the initiative and said they would live up to the promises made in the AIDS legislation Bush signed in May.

Action on the bill was held up for several days after Senate Budget Committee Chair Don Nickles (R-Okla.) demanded reductions in other budget areas to cover the extra spending sought by DeWine and Durbin. Nickles' office said he supported full funding for the AIDS initiative but that it was his job "to make sure Congress sticks to its spending limits." The global AIDS funding includes an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) setting aside $75 million for blood safety. He said 25 percent of the blood in Africa is transfused without being tested.

The measure, S. 1426, goes to a House-Senate conference under a presidential veto threat: The Senate bill, unlike the House version, would overturn the administration's policy of barring money to international organizations that perform or support abortions. The White House has said the president would veto the bill if that provision is in the final version.