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
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.