Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, September 16, 2003 (Full Transcript)QUESTION: Following the meeting between Bono and the President, Bono told reporters that he believes the President is truly committed to a long-term strategy regarding AIDS funding for Africa. However, he said in the immediate -- what's happening right now is the President is -- and these are his words -- "short-changing the program." What happened to the $3 billion commitment for fiscal year '04?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know how one could look at what the President has done and come up with those words that you used to describe it. The President has shown unprecedented leadership in the fight against AIDS, globally and at home. He outlined a $15 billion package over five years to direct resources to -- a lot of those resources to the most afflicted countries in Africa and the Caribbean, 14 countries in all. The President is strongly committed to helping those who are suffering in those afflicted countries. And we are fully committed to making sure that that $15 billion is implemented.
QUESTION: Did the White House ever commit to $3 billion on the front end, the first year, '04?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, keep in mind that, again, there's $15 billion over five years. You need to make sure that the infrastructure is in place for those resources to be spent. We want to make sure that the money is spent effectively and that there's accountability for that money. So there's a ramp-up period, and so that money will continue to ramp up over time, but it will be a total of $15 billion over five years.
And we are working with Congress to make sure that the $2 billion that was requested is fully funded, and Congress is moving forward on that. This is one of the President's highest priorities. He made it very clear in his State of the Union address that it was important that Congress act on this initiative. So we are moving forward to make sure that it is fully funded.