The outrage over federal money being spent to study penis bee stings doesn’t extend to the White House, where President Obama’s spokesman said Wednesday the government should be opening its pocketbook wider.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, released a report Tuesday highlighting goofy research spending taxpayers have funded in recent years — including one man who had a honey bee sting himself all over to gauge which spot was most painful.
Mr. Flake said federal agencies should better police their spending, so they’d have more money to spend on bigger problems such as the Zika virus or other deserving research needs.
But White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the comparison “pathetic.”
“I think its pretty pathetic when we are facing a serious public health crisis, as described by our public health experts, that you would see someone trying to distract from what is a pretty important issue,” he said.
Mr. Earnest said he’s met Mr. Flake, considers him “an honorable guy,” and challenged him to “show some bipartisan leadership” in passing $1.9 billion in new funding to eradicate mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, and to study vaccines.
The White House has refused to suggest cuts to pay for the new spending, saying the Zika situation is an emergency and the new money can be tacked onto the debt.
Mr. Flake’s report identified 20 questionable research projects, ranging from a federally funded study of whether Republican or Democratic women in Congress are more feminine, to a study of the urination times for various mammals.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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