Congressman Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) tore apart Nicole Lurie for wasteful spending at the National Institutes of Health revealed in a Free Beacon report by Liz Harrington.
During Friday's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Ebola crisis, Jordan grilled Lurie on more than $39 million wasted at the NIH that could have been used in preparing the U.S. for a potential Ebola outbreak.
"Are you familiar with the story that says '39 million dollars worth of NIH funding that could have gone to an Ebola vaccine'? Are you familiar with that story?" Jordan asked.
Lurie said she was "not familiar with the details of grant programs" at the NIH. After rattling off a litany of embarrassingly wasteful programs, Jordan cut to the chase.
"Why, in fact, did we spend so much money on, for example, 374 thousand dollars to host fruit and vegetable puppet shows for preschoolers, when, in fact, some of this money could have been used to help with treatment for something like Ebola and potentially a vaccine?" Jordan asked. "Are you involved in the decisions NIH makes when they're deciding how to allocate some of that money?"
Lurie admitted that she was, in fact, the point person on coordinating between multiple government agencies–including the NIH, CDC, FDA, DoD, DHS, VA, and Department of Agriculture–but denied responsibility for the wasted funds Jordan exposed.
"Back to the key question, might we be a little closer to having a vaccine today if you weren't allowing all this millions of dollars–39 million dollars–to be spent on what many Americans view as questionable uses for their tax dollars, particularly in light of the fact that we have an Ebola outbreak in the United States?" Jordan asked.
"I'm not in a position to comment on the overall NIH budget," Lurie finally conceded.