President Barack Obama is asking Congress for an additional $1.5 billion to respond to the swine flu outbreak that is spreading around the world.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama made the request today for money to help build anti-viral stockpiles, work on vaccines and coordinate the U.S. response with other governments. The money would be a supplemental appropriation to this year's budget.
"This is about prudent planning," Gibbs said at a White House briefing. The money is meant "to ensure we have the resources available" at the federal, state and local level to deal with any wider spread of the virus.
In a letter to congressional leaders and the senior members of the House and Senate committees that appropriate funds, Obama asked that the money be "provided with maximum flexibility to allow us to address this emerging situation."