[Updated below] Just yesterday, a World Health Organization doctor arrived infected with Ebola virus in Atlanta for treatment. He or she – the physician has not yet been named – is the fourth Ebola patient to arrive in the United States for care.
It’s against this backdrop that President Obama requested $88 million from Congress to combat the Ebola outbreak, which is currently the worst on record. As Joanna Rothkopf reported, the White House request is only part of a global effort – the United Nations estimates that $600 million is needed to fully address the crisis, compensate for equipment shortages, and properly dispose of the dead.
House Republicans have considered Obama’s request. Apparently, they don’t like it – The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers intend to provide less than half of the resources requested by the administration.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) agreed as of Tuesday morning to spend a total of $40 million to fight the epidemic in the 2015 spending bill.This would include $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $15 million for the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to ramp up production of an experimental anti-Ebola drug, the source said.
Here’s what I really want to know: did congressional Republicans scrutinize the details of the proposal and uncover ways to achieve the same public-health goals with less money? Or did the GOP lawmakers see the administration’s recommendation, conclude that it “sounds like a lot,” and arbitrarily pick a smaller number?
We’ll probably never know for sure, though given the post-policy tendencies of congressional Republicans, I have my suspicions.
GOP plans will come into sharper focus tomorrow when the House is expected to vote on a stopgap spending to keep the federal government running until mid-December. The resources to combat the Ebola outbreak will be part of the spending package.
Update/Correction: After The Hill published its original piece, upon which this report is based, it ran a follow-up article saying that House Republicans had reversed course and will fulfill the White House’s funding request.
GOP officials, meanwhile, say the initial piece in The Hill was incorrect and that they never intended to slash the request. Thanks to Tim Mok for flagging the updated developments.