Conservatives press House to draft competing AIDS legislation

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 09 2003 11:00 PM ET

Conservative groups and some right-wing members of Congress are pressing Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to draft an alternative international AIDS funding bill that favors programs that teach abstinence as the best method to prevent HIV infections, Roll Call reports. The bill would compete with a measure passed by the House International Relations Committee last week that does not place a preference on what forms of HIV prevention are taught and that also authorizes funds to go to groups that provide family planning services that include abortion procedures or counseling.

In order for the Energy and Commerce Committee to consider a competing bill, it would have to substantiate a claim to jurisdiction over the issue, likely by trying to involve the Department of Health and Human Services with the bill, a move the White House opposes. The Energy and Commerce Committee has already held hearings on international AIDS funding, but congressional insiders say it is unlikely that committee members will bow to pressure from conservatives to derail the Republican-sponsored bill already working its way through the House.