Washington officials say that the White House is pressuring senators from both political parties to reduce U.S. funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, according to a press release issued by the Global AIDS Alliance. The Administration is reportedly pressuring the senators to cut funding for the organization in a bill currently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. President Bush would prefer to spend international AIDS funds on other bilateral programs, as is consistent with the AIDS plan he proposed during his State of the Union address. The White House also is insisting that overall global AIDS spending in fiscal 2004 be reduced from the $2.5 billion currently in the bill to $2 billion.
"We are deeply disappointed by these reports of White House pressure," said Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, a nonpartisan AIDS advocacy group. "The president used his State of the Union address to call for 'emergency' action to stop AIDS in Africa, yet now he is obstructing congressional efforts to move resources quickly to programs on the ground in Africa that are delivering treatment now. We need to fully support the global fund this year with funding no less than the Senate approved last year."