White House Seeks More Money For Swine Flu
The White House requested new funding for swine flu from Congress late Tuesday and also sought an additional $3.1 billion from the unspent stimulus funds in case of a pandemic emergency, according to various news sources.
The Wall Street Journal reports that "President Barack Obama requested $2 billion to prepare for a possible resurgence of the H1N1 swine flu this fall. But he also asked for the authority to take a 1% across-the-board cut to stimulus programs allocated at Congress's discretion, or $3.1 billion out of the $311 billion in discretionary stimulus funds."
The proposal to take stimulus money "immediately prompted criticism from Republicans that Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to turn the stimulus package into what Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Republicans, called an all-purpose 'slush fund,'" The Wall Street Journal reports. It added, "With a budget deficit nearing $2 trillion, the stimulus plan is becoming an alluring pot of money. As of May 22, $37 billion, or about 5%, of the total $787 billion plan had been spent, mainly in assistance to states for Medicaid and checks cut by the Social Security Administration" (Weisman, 6/4).
Meanwhile, it appears unlikely that Congress will approve Obama's request for an additional $2 billion to fight the swine flu with U.S House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer expressing doubt Wednesday about the request, Reuters/Washington Post reports. "A pending war funding bill that has already passed the House of Representatives included $2 billion while the Senate version had $1.5 billion," the newspaper writes. "If ... that's insufficient there's obviously an opportunity to pass an additional supplemental" at a later date, Hoyer said, adding, "We want to make sure that we have the funds necessary to respond to this pandemic" (6/3).