Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bird flu funding shot down

Someone help... I'm trying to figure out how we can kill two birds with one stone here.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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 November 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.

Read the rest of the article. The main reason cited by Republican Congressmen is "too much spending." I'm glad someone is saying it, and insisting that if you need money here, it means cutting something there. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Do I think this avian flu will be a problem? Tough to say. I'm naturally an optimist, so I'm of the belief that it will affect some (the deaths from flu will be higher than normal because of it) but I don't believe it will become the pandemic many have suggested. I don't subscribe to the Chicken Little the sky is falling credo. That's for the birds.