A bipartisan group pf House members today plan to announce new legislation that would increase funding for the AIDS plan proposed by President Bush in his State of the Union address. Bush proposed spending $15 billion over the next five years on AIDS/HIV programs in the Caribbean and Africa, with new funding accounting for $10 billion. House lawmakers plan to authorize $20 billion over the next five years, effectively tripling the amount of money the United States is currently spending on the global AIDS crisis, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The House proposal, cosponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Jim Leach (R-IA), Henry Hyde (R-IL), and Dave Weldon (R-FL), would also increase funding for the newly formed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Bush had requested only $200 million a year for the Fund because it “does not have a proven track record,” stated the administration, according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
The House plan would authorize up to $1 billion each year for the Fund, though it also caps US donations at 33 percent of the Fund’s annual contributions, according to the Tribune. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) sponsored an unsuccessful bill last year to increase contributions to the Fund even more, calling for $2.2 billion over two years. However, Frist withdrew his support of this plan in February and backs the Bush Administration’s recommendations. The House plan will also allow funding to go to organizations that provide family planning and abortion services or counseling in addition to HIV/AIDS programs, though some conservatives in the House have been pushing to insert gag rule language into the bill, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Bush Administration has announced its intention to only give funding to organizations that keep their family planning services entirely separate from their HIV/AIDS programs, including accounting. Family planning and AIDS advocates have criticized this extension of the global gag rule, arguing that integrated family planning and AIDS prevention programs were more effective. In addition, critics argue, separate bookkeeping and facilities are not practical for organizations in impoverished countries, the Chronicle reports.
Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Thursday that it will give $50 million over five years to a consortium of development and faith-based groups to combat AIDS in developing countries, according to Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report.