GOP House guts White House’s request for funds to fight and contain Ebola
House Republicans have gutted a White House-sponsored bill that would direct funding to the fight to contain the hemorrhagic fever Ebola, which is raging out of control in multiple African countries.
The Hill blog reported that a source familiar with the budget negotiations confirmed that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) will agree to provide only $40 million of the $88 million the Obama administration asked for in its 2015 budget.
Twenty-five million dollars of the $40 million would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and $15 to the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in order to speed up production of an experimental anti-Ebola drug.
The Obama administration originally asked for $58 million for BARDA, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is tasked with coordinating the nation’s response to public health crises, including medical testing, vaccines, drug development and other products and services associated with “public health and medical consequences of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) accidents, incidents and attacks, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.”
A House Appropriations Committee spokesperson declined to comment to the Hill about the cuts, saying that the details of the 2015 Budget Bill have not been finalized.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the Ebola epidemic is spreading “exponentially” in West Africa’s affected areas. West Africa has almost no emergency health infrastructure. What hospitals there are do not have isolation wards and medical supplies are difficult if not impossible to come by.
According to NBC News, “For example, in Montserrado county, 1,000 beds are urgently needed but only 240 beds are available. WHO has said more than 3,600 people have been infected with Ebola in this West African epidemic, and 2,000 have died, but the organization predicts as many as 20,000 will be sickened before it’s over. Half of those infected have been dying.”
[image of House Appropriations Committee head Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) via halrogers.house.gov]