Irish Rock Star Bono Angry Over Congressional Delay in Approval of FY 2004 AIDS Funding
Irish rock star and AIDS advocate Bono on Wednesday at an interview at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., said he was "infuriated" that Congress has not yet passed the fiscal year 2004 omnibus spending bill that includes funding for President Bush's global AIDS initiative, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 12/3). House-Senate conferees last month agreed to increase federal spending on the global AIDS initiative for FY 2004 to $2.4 billion, $400 million more than the Bush administration has requested. Although the measure (HR 1298) supporting the five-year, $15 billion initiative authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program, the Bush administration has requested only $2 billion. Bush said that his administration requested less than $3 billion in order to give the program time to "ramp up." The omnibus spending bill includes a total of $2.4 billion for AIDS programs, as well as $1 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, an assistance program for developing nations that encourages democracy and development through economic aid (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/26). The House next week is set to return from a holiday break to approve the measure, but the Senate is unlikely to vote on the bill until late January, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 12/3). "The fire truck has arrived at the scene of the fire and we can't turn on the water," Bono, who co-founded the debt, AIDS and trade advocacy group DATA, said. Bono said that the longer the international community waits to address the AIDS epidemic, the worse the situation will become and the more it will cost in the long run, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. "AIDS, as an emergency, is like cancer. It metastasizes," he said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/3).
In the first interview in the "Kaiser Conversations in Health" series, Bono spoke with Kaiser Family Foundation Visiting Fellow Jackie Judd at the foundation's Barbara Jordan Conference Center, fielding questions from a live audience and via e-mail from around the world. An archived video version of the interview is available online from kaisernetwork.org.
Bono also on Wednesday appeared on CNN's "Inside Politics" (Woodruff, "Inside Politics," CNN, 12/3). The full transcript of the program is available online. Video of the interview is available online in RealPlayer.