Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now Wait A Second

Sen. Collins has implied since the beginning that she supported the $800 million in pandemic flu preparedness funding, but blocked the spending on procedural grounds--she didn't believe it belonged in the stimulus bill.

But a careful look at her camp's words (see here and here) reveals something murkier: Collins and her handlers always seem careful to avoid taking a firm position on funding levels. And they never come anywhere near endorsing the $800 million figure.

With that in mind, check out these two paragraphs from a new Washington Times story:

The senator's spokesman said Miss Collins does want increased funding for flu preparedness, though she wanted it to be part of the annual spending process, not the one-time jobs-creation package.

"And, in fact, the omnibus appropriations bill that was signed into law in March, less than a month after the stimulus bill, contains $156 million for pandemic influenza research, which is $1.4 million more than the fiscal year 2008 level," said Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley.
So: Mission accomplished? Certainly sounds like Kevin Kelley feels that way.

Except, of course, that we're looking at something like $700 less in flu preparedness funding then was originally planned.

So does the junior senator have a problem with situation as it stands? Or was the whole point of shifting the debate to the normal budgeting process that the result would be drastically reduced funding?

Will someone please ask Susan Collins, point-blank, whether she wants more pandemic flu funding? And if so, what she's willing to do to secure it?

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