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Old 03-23-2004, 07:03 PM   #1
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Foeriegn Aid My be Cut MORE

[Q]Foreign aid at risk as US Congress faces deficit
Reuters, 03.23.04, 7:14 PM ET


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By Anna Willard

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. aid to poor countries is at risk as Congress looks for ways to keep election-year spending under control and reduce the record budget deficit, lawmakers said Tuesday.

President Bush's flagship foreign assistance program, the Millennium Challenge Account, and the global AIDS fund are possible targets.

Foreign aid advocates -- already complaining that Bush's fiscal 2005 budget contained less money than promised -- are worried that Congress could scale it back even further.

"There's not enough money (for foreign aid)," said Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes legislation to allocate federal money.

"We've got enough foreign aid going into what we're doing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. That's our form of foreign aid right now," said Stevens, an Alaska Republican.

Bush has asked Congress for $2.5 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, designed to encourage poor countries to make political and economic reforms in exchange for aid, and for $1.5 billion for the global AIDS fund. That was up from $1 billion in the 2004 budget for the millennium account and $500 million for AIDS.

But the budget blueprint to be debated by the full House this week, trims over $4 billion from Bush's overall $30 billion international affairs request, which includes funds for programs like food aid and foreign military financing. Aid groups fear the savings will be found by cutting funding for poor countries and the AIDS programs, which are included in the same pot of money in the budget.

DATA, an organization started by Irish rock star Bono, ran a radio advertising campaign in Iowa, the home of Rep. Jim Nussle, the Republican who put together the House budget plan, to try and persuade him to put the money back.

But with the November election looming, domestic worries take priority.

"My bet is that I will get more calls (from constituents) suggesting I ought to stick to my position than from people suggesting we ought to be increasing foreign aid at a time like this when we're running the deficits we are," Nussle said last week. He pointed out that the House Appropriations Committee will indicate where the savings should be found.

Foreign aid advocates cite the example set in the Senate's Republican-written budget, which proposed trimming around $1 billion from Bush's request. But when the budget went to debate in the full Senate, lawmakers approved an amendment by Sen. Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to restore the whole amount. Another amendment added $300 million to fight AIDS, bringing the total amount to more than Bush had requested.

The Senate and House must eventually come together and agree on one budget number. Then each chamber's appropriations committee will divide it up.

"I think that the House has the upper hand and that has me very worried," said David Bryden, Communications Director, at Global AIDS Alliance. "We were delighted to see the leadership from Sen. Lugar. That's the kind of vision we need in the House."

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service[/Q]

Bono is in this article.

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Old 03-23-2004, 08:54 PM   #2
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sorry for the typo in the thread name...
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