10.16.14

Pelosi Demands Hearing on Ebola Funding

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for appropriators to “return to Washington immediately” to approve additional funding for the Ebola response.

Pelosi said the House Appropriations Committee must quickly “convene hearings to discuss and debate the issue of funding levels” for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a statement Thursday.

“While it is important that the House Homeland Security and Energy & Commerce committees have held hearings, it is not right that the Appropriations committee has not met in accordance with its responsibilities to fund these critical public health agencies,” she said.
Just as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle collaborated on a response to HIV/AIDS, Pelosi said “we must come together on a bipartisan basis” to address funding to agencies handling the Ebola response.

Pelosi issued her call just a day after Democrats who oversee health funding pressed the panel’s top Republican for an appropriations hearing.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations health subcommittee, and Reps. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Mike Honda (Calif.) questioned why the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), has not responded to their request for an Ebola hearing.

House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said only that, “The Committee currently has no hearings scheduled as the Congress is in recess.”

Congress has approved the administration’s request to shift $750 million in Pentagon funds toward the response, and lawmakers voted for a spending bill in September that included $88 million for Ebola.

The White House suggested Thursday the administration might ask Congress for even more money as health officials scramble to prevent the disease from spreading.

After lawmakers return to Washington next month, appropriators aim to pass an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2015. Any additional funding for the Ebola response could be included in that legislation. 

A number of Democrats have also blamed GOP budget cuts, saying that they have hampered the response to Ebola. But Republicans have countered that agency officials failed to prioritize spending to deal with such health crises.

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