President Bush will support a $15 billion international AIDS bill even if the measure doesn't include provisions to urge overseas programs to encourage abstinence and monogamy instead of advocating widespread condom use, The Washington Post reports. Bush is scheduled to hold a Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday to announce his support of the current version of a House bill that does not include giving funding preference to any one prevention approach. "The prevention, care, and treatment of AIDS is a high priority for the president, and we are working closely with Congress to pass a bill that gives the president the ability to implement what he outlined," said White House spokesperson Scott McClellan.
Several Republicans in the House plan to introduce amendments to the bill that would prioritize funding for monogamy and abstinence programs and allow religious groups to "opt out" of prevention programs that conflict with their tenets. While Bush would support such amendments, he also would sign the bill without those provisions, McClellan said. House Republican leaders are working to pass the legislation without any such additions. The currently unamended bill was approved 37-8 by the House International Relations Committee on April 2. It would authorize $15 billion a year over five years for international AIDS efforts.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), one of the bill's cosponsors, said she is "delighted that the president is endorsing the bill in its current form."
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