Congress approves $2.4 billion in global AIDS spending
House and Senate conference committee members on Monday agreed to spend $2.4 billion in fiscal 2004 on the international AIDS initiative proposed by President Bush in January and approved by lawmakers in the spring. Although the initiative calls for $15 billion over five years, the Bush administration requested only $2 billion for the first year of the program, saying it needed time to "ramp up" before full funding could be allocated. The House had originally approved $2.1 billion for the program, but House conference committee members agreed to support the Senate version of the spending bill that boosted spending to $2.4 billion. The final allocation of the funds will be included in several appropriations bills that lawmakers hope to have approved this week, before Congress recesses for the remainder of the year.