The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed an $18.1 billion foreign spending bill for fiscal 2004 that includes $1.4 billion to fight AIDS overseas, less than half the amount pledged by President Bush in his $15 billion, five-year international AIDS initiative. However, some senators plan to include AIDS spending in other appropriations bills to boost funding for HIV prevention and treatment programs in developing nations. The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved $1.43 billion in international AIDS spending and had previously approved other bills that would place overall AIDS funding for 2004 at about $2 billion.
The funds approved by the Senate committee include $700 million for U.S.-run programs, up to $250 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and $150 million to develop programs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. An amendment offered by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) to a defense spending bill that would have diverted $1 billion in defense funds to the Global AIDS fund failed in the full Senate by a 71-24 vote. The Senate last week approved 78-18 a nonbinding resolution calling for $3 billion in 2004 to fight AIDS overseas, even if the amount exceeds the ceiling mandated in Congress's annual budget resolution.