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Senate rejects domestic, international AIDS spending measures

Senate rejects domestic, international AIDS spending measures

The Senate on Tuesday rejected a spending proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would have boosted spending on domestic AIDS efforts in fiscal 2004, including providing additional funds to cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Many state-run ADAPs are facing such severe budget shortfalls that they've initiated waiting lists for new clients, tightened eligibility requirements, or reduced the number of anti-HIV medications they provide. Fifteen states currently have waiting lists, including West Virginia, where in August health officials reported that three AIDS patients died while waiting for access to the program. Four more states expect to enact ADAP restrictions before the end of the year. Schumer's proposal would have boosted ADAP spending by an additional $214 million in fiscal 2004, a figure the ADAP Working Group says is necessary to fully fund the programs and eliminate existing waiting lists. So far, the Senate has pledged to increase ADAP spending in 2004 by only $25 million, about one tenth of the amount ADAP officials say is needed. The House in July passed a spending bill increasing ADAP spending by $39 million in 2004. The Senate also on Tuesday voted to reject an amendment to a labor, health, and education services bill that would have added $1 billion in spending in fiscal 2004 to the global AIDS initiative approved by Congress earlier this year, The Washington Post reports. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), would have brought international AIDS spending in 2004 to $3 billion, matching the pledge made by President Bush in his January State of the Union address. So far, Bush has requested and Congress has approved only $2 billion in spending. The amendment received 51 votes in its favor, but additional appropriations spending that exceed yearly budget limits must receive 60 votes to pass. The Senate in July passed a nonbinding resolution, called the Bingham Amendment, to spend a total of $3 billion on global AIDS efforts in fiscal 2004.

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