seeks $6.2 billion to combat Ebola: officials
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[November 06, 2014] By
Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama asked the U.S. Congress on Wednesday to approve $6.18 billion in
new emergency funds this fiscal year to combat Ebola where it is raging
in West Africa, as well as in the United States.
According to documents provided to Congress, the administration
wants lawmakers to provide $4.5 billion in funds for immediate
response to the deadly disease and another $1.5 billion in
In a letter to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Obama
said his top priority is to protect the health and safety of
Americans and the request would cover that.
"Over the longer term, my administration recognizes that the best
way to prevent additional cases at home will be to contain and
eliminate the epidemic at its source in Africa," he said.
The request followed mid-term elections on Tuesday in which
Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate from Obama's fellow
Democrats and increased their majority in the House.
Concern about the Ebola outbreak played a major part in election
campaigning with Republicans portraying the outbreak as one of many
areas in which Obama's policies have fallen short.
The Ebola outbreak has resulted in nearly 5,000 deaths in West
Africa and nine cases treated in the United States since August,
including a Liberian who died on Oct. 8 in Dallas.
The Senate and House Appropriations Committees are assembling a $1
trillion spending package to fund a wide range of federal programs
for the rest of the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. The Ebola
request would be folded into that bill, to be debated by Dec. 11,
when existing government funds run out.
CONGRESS WILL REVIEW REQUEST
Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Boehner, said congressional
appropriators would review Obama's request. "We'll continue to work
with our members and the administration to ensure we are doing
everything we can to protect the public from a deadly disease," he
The White House wants $1.83 billion for the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to prevent, detect and respond to the Ebola
epidemic and other diseases and public health emergencies abroad and
in the United States.
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An additional $1.98 billion would go to the U.S. Agency for
International Development for foreign assistance in the Ebola
And $127 million would go to the State Department to expand its
medical support and evacuation capacity and $112 million for the
Defense Department, including funding to support efforts to develop
technologies relevant to the Ebola crisis.
That would include using antibodies from Ebola survivors and
survivors of other infectious diseases to provide immunity to the
disease as a stopgap until a vaccine is available.
The administration is also asking for $1.54 billion for a
contingency fund, divided between Health and Human Services, USAID
and State to ensure resources are available to adapt as the crisis
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Cynthia
Osterman; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Cynthia Osterman)
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