Originally published on Advocate.com January 10 2004 12:00 AM ET
President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2005 budget, due to Congress by February 2, will include a request for only $2.7 billion in international AIDS spending, down from the $3 billion authorized by Congress for the president's global AIDS initiative. Sources close to the budget deliberations said the amount requested disappoints some activists, who had hoped for a larger commitment. In last year's State of the Union address, Bush pledged $15 billion to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, which would triple U.S. spending over a five-year period. For fiscal 2004, Bush sought about $2 billion from Congress, which is expected to approve $2.4 billion for that period. Some AIDS activists said the president is not living up to his State of the Union commitment. They had hoped for $3 billion in the 2005 budget and said Congress had authorized up to $3.6 billion due to the shortfall in spending in 2004. White House aides said Bush withheld support for budgeting $3 billion a year because of concern that systems were not yet in place to use the money effectively. Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean has pledged $30 billion to fight AIDS by 2008.