As President Donald Trump continues to blame former President Barack Obama for the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 in an effort to make his response to coronavirus look better, reporters rediscovered that Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) blocked a major pandemic funding package offered by Democrats.
Collins insisted that the $870 million package to fight the just beginning swine flu pandemic that year by cutting it from the economic stimulus bill, drawing outrage from Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), who served as House Appropriations Chairman.
“Whether or not this influenza strain turns out to have pandemic potential, sooner or later some strain will,” Obey said. “We are not prepared today. Let’s hope we don’t need to be.”
Indeed, 12,000 Americans would die in the pandemic Obey warned would come. And now Trump is desperately trying to cast Obama and Democrats as the villains even though Republicans are the ones who sabotaged the response to that pandemic. Many of those deaths could have been prevented had they supported the funding package. But just like with the coronavirus today, Republicans didn’t care about American lives, especially Collins, who had the power to kill the funding according to reporters who covered her at the time.
— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) March 13, 2020
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) March 12, 2020
Her opponents have taken interest in her action.
“Senator Collins went out of her way to stop funds from going to pandemic preparedness, and now Mainers are concerned because of Collins’ history of opposing funding for situations exactly like this,” said Maine’s 16 Counties Coalition executive director Willy Ritch said in a statement. “We need to tell Senator Collins to stop playing games with our health and vote to protect Maine families.”
Even her Democratic opponent in the upcoming election reminded voters of Collins’ callousness.
In 2009, @SenatorCollins didn’t think it was a good idea to invest in pandemic flu preparedness, saying it was not good for the economy.
Now, #Covid19 could throw us into another recession.
We deserve better from our leaders. https://t.co/qFP0w0eoSI
— Betsy Sweet (@BetsySweetME) March 13, 2020
This all serves as a stark reminder of how reckless Republicans are when it comes to public health, especially since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently rejected a House bill passed by Democrats designed to strengthen the response to the coronavirus.
So, Collins is not the only Republican who should be ousted from office. They all have these deaths to answer for.
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