House Votes Against Diverting Anti-Drug Funds

From Associated Press

The House voted Tuesday to protect money for fighting drugs in South America from lawmakers who argued that foreign aid dollars would be better spent against AIDS and other world health problems.

The defeat of amendments to shift money from the Andean anti-drug initiative to health programs was a victory for the Bush administration, which said that any reductions below what the president wanted "would undermine the effort to develop healthy, licit economies and strong democratic governments in the Andes."

The $15.2-billion foreign aid spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 passed, 381 to 46. It contains $676 million to fight drugs and advance stability in Colombia and its neighbors.

But some lawmakers, led by Democrats, questioned the wisdom of military aid to Colombia and said combating AIDS and other diseases should be a higher priority.

The bill, which has not been to the Senate, provides $474 million for international AIDS programs. Included is the $100 million the president requested for an international HIV-AIDS trust fund.

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