In the face of the recent outbreak of swine flu cases reported in Mexico and several southern states, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins stands by her efforts to eliminate $780 million for pandemic flu preparedness from the federal economic stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year.Get that? Even though she took the lead in getting flu funds cut, Sen. Collins really wanted them approved--just not as part of the stimulus.
The Maine Republican successfully sought the removal of the funding because she didn't feel it met the criteria laid out for stimulus funds in terms of job creation or providing an immediate lift to the slowing economy.
“Sen. Collins supports increased funding for pandemic flu preparedness, but she felt it belonged in the regular appropriations bill, not the stimulus package,” said Kevin Kelley, Collins' spokesman.
But here's the thing: When it came time to vote on the budget--which included a flu preparedness funding boost--do you think the junior senator voted for it?
Look, there's nothing incoherent about supporting a piece of an omnibus bill while opposing the broader package. Maybe, in her heart of hearts, Collins does actually believe in increased funding for pandemic flu preparedness.
Unfortunately, as in so many other cases, she's had an awfully tough time finding opportunities to translate that belief into action.
Video flashback here.
UPDATE: The Collins camp spins here.
Of course, the fact that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) hasn't yet been approved by the Senate is a function of Republican stalling. And if Collins has been working to speed Sebelius' confirmation along, I can't find any evidence of it.