11/19/2005

Daily Kos: Republicans reject pandemic flu plan funding

On November 1, 2005, George W. Bush gave a speech outlining the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. Here's an excerpt from his speech:

Now, all the steps I've outlined today require immediate resources. Because a pandemic could strike at any time, we can't waste time in preparing. So to meet all our goals, I'm requesting a total of $7.1 billion in emergency funding from the United States Congress. By making critical investments today, we'll strengthen our ability to safeguard the American people in the awful event of a devastating global pandemic...

was a case of better late than never.

Country by country, bird flu is spreading. However, despite Bush's request, here's how Congress voted:

WHO has urged all countries to come up with plans for tackling a pandemic of bird flu, but U.S. efforts stalled on Thursday when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives refused to approve funding for Bush's $7.1 billion plan.

After days of intensive talks between the House and Senate, negotiators dropped a plan for $8 billion in funds that Democrats pushed through the Senate last month.

Conservative Republicans in the House insisted that an emergency U.S. effort to stockpile vaccines and anti-viral drugs that could be effective against the deadly flu would have to be paid for by cutting other government programs.

The funding proposal was attached to the health and labor spending bill. Even though Bush himself emphasized the importance of funding avian flu preparedness measures (surveillance, vaccine and anti-viral drug stockpiling, etc.), the Republicans in Congress want to wait. It's not only another GOP dissent from Bush, it could be a critical delay, when time is of the essence.


Daily Kos: Republicans reject pandemic flu plan funding

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