AUGUSTA — In the face of the recent outbreak of swine flu cases reported in Mexico and several southern states, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins stands by her efforts to eliminate $780 million for pandemic flu preparedness from the federal economic stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year.

The Maine Republican successfully sought the removal of the funding because she didn’t feel it met the criteria laid out for stimulus funds in terms of job creation or providing an immediate lift to the slowing economy.

“Sen. Collins supports increased funding for pandemic flu preparedness, but she felt it belonged in the regular appropriations bill, not the stimulus package,” said Kevin Kelley, Collins’ spokesman. “That’s something she made a point of saying during negotiations.”

In December 2008, Collins, along with several of her Republican and Democratic colleagues, signed a letter in support of a $905 million increase for the public health and social service emergency fund, which was sent to Senate leadership.

“These additional funds are needed to enhance the nation’s preparedness against a bioterrorist event or an influenza pandemic,” said the letter.

The omnibus appropriations bill recently signed by President Obama included $156 million for pandemic flu preparedness, an increase in funding from last year, Kelley said.

Collins voted against the omnibus bill because she felt it duplicated funding already provided in the stimulus package in several other areas.

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