The Senator Responds
The backpedaling has begun. The office of Maine Senator Susan Collins has issued a press release explaining her position on pandemic flu prevention after the media raised questions about her efforts to strip $780 millions of pandemic flu-prevention funds from the 2009 fiscal stimulus bill. "Claims that she is opposed to increased funding for pandemic flu research are blatantly false and politically motivated," says her chief spokesperson, Kevin Kelley "In fact, in December 2008, Senator Collins joined in a letter to Senate leaders requesting a $905 million increase for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services. During negotiations of the economic stimulus package, Senator Collins always maintained that, though very worthwhile, pandemic flu research funding should go through the regular appropriations process since it did not meet the test of stimulus spending. 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."