Leaders Balk at Obama Request for H1N1 Vaccine Funding

Plan to use special reserve fund is opposed by Congress, commission.

Early last week President Obama asked Congress for authority to spend up to an additional $9 billion for an H1N1 flu vaccine. A third of those funds would come from the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund. The leaders of a bipartisan commission on weapons of mass destruction say the action would weaken the nation's preparedness for terrorism.

 

In a letter to the President, the commission’s chairman, former Senator Bob Graham and vice chairmen, former Senator James Talent, said using BioShield funds for flu preparedness will severely diminish the nation's efforts to prepare for Weapons of Mass Destruction events and will leave the nation less, not more, prepared. The Commission leaders said the H1N1 influenza virus poses a public health threat that merits its own funding.

 

The commission's opposition followed other criticism of the administration's flu vaccine funding plans. Congressional Republicans attacked the White House's request for authority to use $3.1 billion in discretionary stimulus funds. Kenneth Baer, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said except in extraordinary circumstances BioShield funds will not be accessed.

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