Josiah Ryan | Staff Writer | Friday, February 1, 2008
Some Senate Democrats, however, are skeptical that the money will actually appear in the president's budget resolution, which is scheduled to be released Monday.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told Cybercast News Service that the proposal is a "great start" but that the president's track record undermines his confidence in the proposal. "I have seen the president put good proposals out and then not fight for them," said Brown.
"He puts a good proposal out, but then everything else is just swallowed up by the war in Iraq and the tax cuts. The good proposals just kind of wither away, and I become skeptical, because I have seen him do it so many times."
The White House Web site boasts of the president's track record when it comes to AIDS/HIV, which calls the $15 billion Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEFPAR), proposed in the 2003 State of the Union address, the "largest international health initiative in history ever dedicated to a single disease."
The plan targets 15 high-risk countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The Web site says PEPFAR has treated 1.4 million people.
The president's new proposal is twice the size of PEPFAR.
"America is leading the fight against disease, and our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people," Bush said.
"We can bring healing and hope to many more. So I ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success. And I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next five years," he added.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also expressed skepticism that the president would actually deliver the money. "I think $30 billion is a strong commitment. I am not sure how that will compare to what may be in the president's budget resolution," he said.
"He has to match concern with the dollars," said Casey. "It is one thing to talk about it. It is another thing to put it in the budget. It is another thing to push for it and really fight for it.
"I just hope that when he is talking about something that significant and that brave in the State of the Union Address, he will really follow up to make sure it becomes a priority and not something that's just rhetorical," said Casey.
As part of his campaign against HIV/AIDS overseas, the president has scheduled a trip to Africa for mid-February.
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