Bush Signs Global AIDS Bill

On May 27 President Bush signed legislation passed by both houses of Congress authorizing up to $15 billion in funding over the next five years for global AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria treatment and prevention for 12 African and two Caribbean countries. The money must still be appropriated -- usually the more difficult step in Congress. But authorization is an important start, and the U.S. is expected to use it to lobby for more commitment from other major governments at the G-8 summit (Group of Eight nations), June 1-3 in Evian, France.

You can read the full text of this legislation at the Web site of the Library of Congress, http://thomas.loc.gov. There you can search for the bill number, H.R. 1298. The latest version is the current one.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, the House Democratic Leader and the most informed member of Congress on AIDS, commented briefly on both the strengths and weaknesses of this bill in a speech on May 21 (Extensions of Remarks, May 23):

  • MS. PELOSI: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1298, The United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003. The statistics on AIDS are staggering. According to the United Nations, AIDS has killed over 20 million people since the epidemic began. Every day nearly 14,000 people become infected with HIV, primarily in the developing world, and another 8,500 people die.

  • It's almost too much to comprehend, but we can respond. And we must. Experts say that a strong global response could prevent nearly two-thirds of the 45 million new infections that are projected by 2020, saving tens of millions of lives.

  • This legislation will strengthen our response to the global AIDS pandemic by improving coordination among relevant U.S. agencies, establishing additional accountability mechanisms, and fostering international cooperation through increased contributions to the multilateral Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The increased contribution of up to $1 billion for the Global Fund in FY2004 is accompanied by a 33 percent cap on the U.S. contribution to challenge other donor countries to match our increased commitment.

  • The promises made in H.R. 1298, however, must be matched by real resources. Planning and coordination alone will not solve this monumental crisis. Prevention and treatment require money. This is a good first step, now we must appropriate the funds necessary to enact this plan and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to the world.

  • H.R. 1298 authorizes $15 billion for our multilateral and bilateral efforts, including $3 billion in FY2004. Unfortunately, the Bush budget provides only $1.6 billion in FY2004, with only $200 million going to the Global Fund. We must do better.

  • I also have deep reservations about the provision that gives abstinence programs a third of USAID's prevention funding. This crisis is too severe and our response is too critical to let our efforts be undermined by catering to ideological pressure.

  • The fight against AIDS is far from over, and this legislation provides an important opportunity to strengthen our commitment to a future where AIDS is no longer a threat. I urge my colleagues to support the motion to concur.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2003 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.