(August 30) The Biden administration must not realize just how badly it indicts its own policy choices when it takes money meant for virus vaccinations and diverts it to housing for immigrant children.

Yes, you read that correctly: With a worldwide pandemic still raging and with a horrific 1,100 people in the United States, almost all of them unvaccinated, dying from the coronavirus each day for half a month, the administration is diverting money from the vaccination effort. Rather than spend more money fighting a worldwide disaster of China’s making, Joe Biden is using it to handle a domestic disaster of his own making.

Let’s set aside, for now, the question of whether the diversion of $589 million is even legal. Complicated rules govern the leeway of administrations to redirect funds appropriated by Congress. Suffice it to say that whether legal or not, most fund diversions outside a narrow range of alternatives violate the spirit of the constitutional design. Absent clear congressional language allowing significant leeway, agencies may be justified in redirecting, for example, COVID vaccination money for COVID treatments, but on far shakier ground when redirecting funds for an entirely unrelated purpose.

These sorts of issues are increasingly fought in federal courts, with presidents sometimes losing . And even if somehow legal, major diversions usually are misguided. The people vote for representatives, not bureaucrats, to exercise the power of the purse. Any detour from those representatives’ intended road map is ethically problematic.

Again, though, let’s abandon legal theorizing and consider the specific policy merits involved here. Fox News reports: “Of the ARP funding, $187.5 million had been marked for the Centers for Disease Control for ‘vaccine planning, distribution, monitoring and tracking’ and an additional $25 million for ‘vaccine confidence activities.’ Meanwhile $151 million of the diverted funding had been tagged for the ‘Supply Chain for Vaccines, Therapeutics and Medical Supplies.’”… [The full column is here.]


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