Given the recent outbreak of swine flu, Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-ME) push to strip funding for pandemic flu preparedness is looking increasingly shortsighted. But Collins was not the first to campaign against the provision. Indeed, several days prior to Collins’s public push, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced an amendment that would have stripped, among other things, the flu funding provision. In arguing for his amendment on the floor of the senate, Vitter apparently couldn’t fathom how pandemic preparedness could possibly serve to protect the economy, calling it part of a “laundry list of…big government spending items”:
VITTER: The Vitter amendment is an attempt to start the important work of cutting out some of the clearly non stimulative parts of this bill. … [N]eighborhood stabilization, historic preservation, fish and wildlife resource construction, comparative research, the pandemic flu, the smart grid.
People might say: You are not worried about a pandemic flu and the threat that causes to our Nation? I am. That is a serious subject. … Maybe we need to do more; I do not know. But I do know one thing. That is average spending and typical spending that is nothing to do with job creation and economic stimulus. Yet this bill is littered line after line after line with all of those items. Many are ridiculous. [...]
I hope this vote tonight on the Vitter amendment will be the beginning of fundamentally changing this bill so it is no longer simply a laundry list of traditional Washington, big government spending items.