Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bird flu funding

I need to check how the Kentucky Delegation voted on this matter but a diary at Daily Kos points out that the House of Representatives have rejected "emergency funding to combat the bird flu."

Talk about fiscally irresponsible. It seems they are more concerned with tax cuts for the wealthy than affordable health care or the prevention of what may be a major epidemic.

Here's the Reuters article:
Emergency money that President George W. Bush requested to combat a looming influenza pandemic has been deleted from a U.S. health-funding bill after conservative Republicans insisted it would have to be paid for by cutting other government programs.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday was set to debate the massive health-funding bill. 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.

Following that Senate vote, Bush on Nov. 1 asked Congress for $7.1 billion in emergency money.

The funding fight erupted after 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.

Republican leaders in the House said that instead of attaching the bird flu money to a massive $602 billion health and labor spending bill that is rapidly moving through Congress, they would try separate legislation later this year or early next year.

Avian flu has been killing poultry flocks in Asia and the animal disease has spread globally. More than 100 people have been infected with avian flu and about half have died.

Scientists fear a pandemic-style human outbreak if the virus mutates in a way that people could easily pass the disease to each other.[...]

Democrats in Congress have been urging quick approval of the money, which also would be used to step up worldwide surveillance of the disease and help localities cope with an outbreak.

But with Congress already reeling over $62 billion in emergency spending for the fall's hurricane cleanup and with huge budget deficits becoming chronic, conservatives have warned their leaders that they will not tolerate an open checkbook.

As a result, the House on Thursday also was set to debate $50 billion in spending cuts that hit social programs for the poor and have generated a broad debate over government priorities. At the same time, House Republicans are advancing tax cuts that help the wealthy.
Bad priorities for the Republicans.

Congressman John Murtha has now called for a pullout in Iraq. I apologize for the error of confusing him with Senator Harry Reid.

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