The budget outline Congress passed this week continued to have down-to-earth impact yesterday as the Senate Appropriations Committee used it to relieve pressure from 1991 funding for the United Nations and the care of AIDS patients in cities hard hit by the disease.
Using additional funds freed by the budget plan, the committee allocated $49 million for AIDS treatment under the AIDS-care law signed by President Bush in August. It also acted to avoid the embarrassment of having insufficient funds available to meet the 1991 U.S. contribution to the United Nations during the Persian Gulf crisis.
A revised $19.3 billion appropriation for the departments of State, Commerce and Justice now includes the full $695 million for the United Nations and other international agencies and more than $100 million to start paying arrearages from past years.
Though money was allocated to AIDS care, the amount failed to satisfy one group of senators, who unsuccessfully tried to increase the amount by $338 million via an across-the-board cut of just under one percent in dozens of other health and education programs.
"We have a plague," said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.). "They're going to die, and what we ought to do is treat them with a little dignity on their way out of this earth."
"We're talking about municipalities going under," said Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.), another backer of more funding.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the subcommittee that funds the program, said: "I wish I had the money for it. It's a tragedy."
During the discussion, other senators cited the need for more funds to fight cervical cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and other killers.
Sen. Brock Adams (D-Wash.), who had pushed for more funding, summed up the debate as a new and discouraging trend forced on the appropriators by the budget crisis. "It's people with needs fighting among one another for the resources."
Total spending on AIDS research and treatment in the $183 billion labor, education and health bill drafted by Harkin's subcommittee was increased by $632 million over last year -- more than 35 percent. But AIDS groups and big-city interests criticized the original Harkin bill for failure to provide any of the $880 million authorized under the AIDS-care law.
All the $49 million provided by Harkin's subcommittee in the revised measure would go to 16 cities whose hospitals and facilities have been swamped by the AIDS epidemic. Harkin's bill earmarks another $490 million for AIDS treatment, but those funds will not be available until October 1991.
Committee chairman Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) told members that during the budget summit talks he had staved off an administration proposal to cut appropriations by $39 billion and has maneuvered this week to reallocate funds to the most hard-pressed of his 13 subcommittees. But six senators voted yesterday against the new allocation for agricultural programs, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) asserted that the $300 million reduction would kill the crop insurance program.
By contrast, the subcommittee that finances foreign aid gained more than $300 million in outlays as a result of the summit. The full committee yesterday quickly approved a $15 billion foreign aid measure, but the members agreed to postpone debate over policy differences on Cambodia, population funding, El Salvador and Egyptian loan forgiveness until the bill reaches the floor.
Meanwhile, a group led by Sens. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Robert W. Kasten Jr. (R-Wis.) is working on an amendment that would allow the Pentagon to transfer to Israel some $700 million of excess equipment -- including air defense radars -- from U.S. stockpiles in Europe. That would be separate from a transfer to Israel of U.S. Patriot missiles now being negotiated at the Defense Department.