Panel says it will approve millions more for swine flu

The House Appropriations Committee will approve spending more than $2 billion to combat the outbreak of swine flu, up from the $1.5 billion President Barack Obama requested, the committee's chairman said.

The chairman, Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), said May 5 that the committee wants to provide an additional $350 million for state and local efforts against swine flu and $200 million to strengthen global response.

The funding would pay for antiviral medications, vaccines, and systems for disease detection and surveillance, Obey said. Some money would go to nongovernmental organizations that are working to track the disease, he added.

The committee is scheduled to consider the increase May 7 as part of a $94 billion supplemental spending bill that also includes funding for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The total is $9.3 billion above the Obama administration’s request.

Obey said the extra money for swine flu is justified because there has been a longstanding need to expand pandemic flu preparedness. In 2005, President George W. Bush asked for $7.1 billion for that purpose, but Congress has never fully funded that request, Obey said.

Under the committee’s legislation:

  • The Health and Human Services Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would get $1.5 billion for supplementing federal vaccine stockpiles, developing and buying vaccines, and expanding detection efforts.
  • State and local governments would get $350 million to prepare for and respond to a flu pandemic.
  • Some $200 million would be spent to support global efforts to track, contain and slow the spread of the flu.

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