$870 million is now designated for fighting the flu. That money will come from the stimulus bill. Senator Ben Nelson helped secure that funding.
“The stimulus bill was designed for short term projects to stimulate the economy, to save and create jobs. The administration is indicating there is enough money to be able to deal with the current crisis and we passed the omnibus spending bill earlier this year that provided for an additional 158-million to address additional pandemics in 2009 and yesterday President Obama submitted a request of 1.5-billion to address the swine flu outbreak.”
There was mixing of words when the democrats who stated money in the stimulus bill were to be spent on job creation, not the flu. Nelson helped get that money out of the stimulus bill despite the complaints.
“These are emergency situations that developed today. The stimulus package was not designed to deal with emergencies but to deal with the economy. It was a jobs bill. The president is doing something appropriate. After carefully monitoring the situation and accessing the risks and an abundance of caution, he is requesting the additional money be added to a ’09 supplemental appropriations bill.”
Senator Nelson says no one saw this coming and he supports President Obama’s funding requests.
“The fact is it is very difficult to budget for a pandemic. A lot of what was being proposed dealing with a pandemic was dealing with research. These are immediate dollars. There is immediate money there already adequate to deal with where we are. That has been communicated. No one knows exactly where this is going to go so that is why the president said that out of an abundance of caution, that is why the money is requested. If that 870-million had been in the stimulus package, it would have obviously still necessary to step forward as the president is right now. So there is no harm, no foul.”
Senator Nelson also supports $1.5-billion in an emergency funding request for vaccines.