WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama asked congressional leaders for an additional $1.5 billion dollars on Tuesday to enhance the U.S. response to the swine flu outbreak.

Out of an abundance of caution, I am asking Congress to include in the fiscal year 2009 supplemental budget request that I sent to you earlier this month an amount of $1.5 billion to enhance our nation's capability to respond to the potential spread of this outbreak, the president said in a letter to congressional leaders.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the funds could be used to build up antiviral stockpiles, develop a vaccine, support the U.S. public health response to the outbreak and help international organizations stem its spread.