New initiative, old problems...
The White House spent much of the day Tuesday pushing on behalf of the administration's five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative. In the East Room, George W. Bush spoke on behalf of the effort to an audience of congressional leaders, members of the ambassador corps and, in the president's words, "fellow Americans who care deeply about a neighbor in need." Later in the day the Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa, led by former U.S. Reps. J. C. Watts and Eva Clayton, released the list of CARA's charter corporate supporters.
The companies lending support to the effort are: Abbott Laboratories, AOL Time Warner, Chevron Texaco, Coca Cola, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, PhRMA, Merck and Syntroleum. Watts and Clayton also announced that former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ron Dellums had joined the coalition as co-chairmen.
The intense push is designed to build support for the initiative, which is due to come up on the House floor later this week. Early indications are that it is in some trouble from conservatives who are unhappy about the possibility they may be creating yet another international funding cooperative to push social engineering solutions to existing problems.
Sources on Capitol Hill say the action will be over three amendments that will be offered by House conservatives that address their concerns. The first expresses the sense of the Congress that no less than 33 percent of the total amount spent on prevention is used to for abstinence-based approaches to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. The second, as currently structured, would cap the total amount that can be spent on the fund's administrative expenses.
The third amendment prevents the exclusion of religious and faith-based groups from participating in the program or receiving grants because they have moral objections to some of the recommendations made by fund experts, particularly the use or distribution of condoms, to prevent the spread of the disease.
Just to make a point...
By a vote of 52 to 41, the United States Senate voted Tuesday to confirm the nomination of Jeffrey Sutton to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Sutton, a former Ohio state solicitor general, won confirmation in spite of a last-minute protest by activists for the disabled who urged his defeat.
The vote represents a victory of sorts for the White House and for Senate Republicans, who have seen the Democrats thwart the attempt to confirm several high profile nominees in the weeks and months since the GOP regained control of the chamber. Nevertheless, that the Democrats were able to produce 41 votes against Sutton should be taken as a sign that storm clouds remain on the horizon. The pending nominations of Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen to seats on the U.S. Circuit have stalled due to filibusters that the GOP can only stop if 60 of the 100 senators vote for cloture, cutting off debate and moving to a vote -- 41 being the magic number needed to keep a filibuster going. This is all, insiders in both parties say, a dress rehearsal in advance of the political theater that is sure to occur once the next vacancy on the United States Supreme Court opens up.
A peach of a race...
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr's sudden withdrawal from the race in Georgia's open 6th Congressional District appears to have changed the landscape quite significantly. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Price entered the race. His move comes counter to the expectations of those who believed Price did not want to relinquish his post as Senate point man for GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue. In fact, Price says, he will likely step down from the post before the opening of the 2004 legislative session.
Price joins State Sen. Rob Lamutt and John McCallum, a former staffer for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in the race for the Republican nomination. Others who are said to be considering a bid are state Rep. Roger Hines and state Sen. Chuck Clay.
United States Ambassador to Uzbekistan John Herbst is the president's choice to be the new United States ambassador to Ukraine. A member of the Foreign Service, Herbst had previously been posted to Jerusalem and Moscow... President Bush has nominated former Pennsylvania state Attorney General Mike Fischer to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Fischer was the Republican candidate for governor in 2002, losing to former Philadelphia Mayor and Democratic National Chairman Ed Rendell.... Claude Allen, currently number two to Secretary Tommy Thompson in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has been nominated for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Allen is a former Virginia deputy attorney general and served as the Commonwealth's Secretary for Heath and Human Resources during the Gilmore administration.
(Got an item for Capital Comment? E-mail it to CapComm@UPI.com.)
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