Tuesday, September 16, 2003

President Bush Shortchanges Funding for His Own Emergency AIDS Program

-From the Daily Misleader

The President heavily promoted his emergency relief for AIDS after announcing it at this year's State of the Union speech, signing a $15 billion law to be spent over five years.  But while the President is publicly calling for full funding, he's actively seeking to underfund his own program.

The President said in Africa this July that "The House of Representatives and the United States Senate must fully fund this initiative, for the good of the people on this continent of Africa," Less than a week later, he sent a letter to Congress asking for 1/3rd less than full funding.  

The law that Bush signed authorized $3 billion a year, but President Bush has requested only $2 billion in his 2004 budget.  Despite the claim to fully fund the program in the State of the Union, the Bush Administration is now claiming that AIDS service organizations cannot absorb full funding immediately. The service organizations themselves disagree with the White House's position.

The Republican-led Foreign Operations subcommittee also disagreed when it approved a doubling of the commitment for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS from $200 million to $400 million, despite a letter from the White House requesting the lower figure. It was later scrapped by the full committee under White House pressure.

And the bottom line? The president's push for $1 billion less than authorized by Congress (and promoted by the President himself) blocks 1 million people from treatment and nearly 2.5 million new HIV infections that could be avoided.


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