House passes spending bill including $2.4 billion for AIDS efforts
The House on Monday passed an $820 billion spending bill for fiscal 2004 that includes $2.4 billion for the global AIDS initiative, the Los Angeles Times reports. The amount is $400 million more than President Bush requested for international AIDS spending in 2004. Although the five-year, $15 billion international initiative proposed by Bush and approved by Congress could provide up to $3 billion per year, Bush had requested only $2 billion for 2004, saying the program needed time to "ramp up" before full funding should be allotted. The Senate isn't expected to vote on the spending bill until it reconvenes in late January. Although the Senate is still in session, Republican leaders have scheduled only voice votes for the remainder of the year and Senate officials say the spending bill will likely require considerable debate and a formal vote.