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House passes measure to limit attendance at international conferences

House passes measure to limit attendance at international conferences

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed two amendments to spending bills that limit the number of federal employees who can attend international health conferences, including AIDS meetings, The Washington Times reports. Citing budget deficits and a growing national debt, legislators voted to limit the number of federal employees who can attend international health conferences to 50 and imposed similar limits on the number of State Department employees attending any international gathering. "My constituents often ask me why Congress continues to spend so much despite the fact that we have a deficit and an ever-growing national debt," Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), who sponsored both amendments, told the Times. "The amendments represent common sense and fiscal discipline." The amendments followed a decision by Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson to limit the number of federal employees attending the 15th International AIDS Conference, held in July in Bangkok, Thailand, to just 50 people. More than 230 HHS employees attended the 2002 AIDS conference in Barcelona, Spain, at a cost of $3.6 million. Dozens of presentations had to be withdrawn at the Bangkok conference because U.S. researchers couldn't attend, and several training sessions for researchers and scientists from developing countries were canceled.

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