By late summer last year, Operation Warp Speed accounts were running dry, so the Trump administration appears to have used a financial maneuver allowing Department of Health and Human Services officials to divert $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Stat News reports.
Congress granted the HHS permission to move pandemic-related money between accounts, though the agreement stipulated the agency had to give lawmakers a heads up. In this case, it appears the HHS siphoned the funds quietly, albeit with permission from its top lawyer. Other attorneys told Stat that the agency likely did have the wiggle room to carry out the action.
Former Office of Management and Director Russ Vought defended the decision and said “we would do it again,” telling Stat that not only did the administration have the authority, it was also “the right thing to do in order to move as quickly as possible because lives were on the line.” Other Trump officials seemed to agree, per Stat, arguing that successful vaccines would reduce hospitalizations, making Warp Speed the more consequential outlet.
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