Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats Call On President Trump To Not Claw Back Vital Funds To Combat Ebola And Other Infectious Diseases

Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats Call On President Trump

To Not Claw Back Vital Funds To Combat Ebola And Other Infectious Diseases

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, May 22, 2018) — In a letter led by Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), committee Democrats are urging President Trump to not claw back vital funding intended to combat the Ebola virus and other deadly infectious diseases around the world. Millions of Americans are traveling, studying, and working overseas. And outbreaks of dangerous diseases are only one airplane flight away from reaching the United States and other nations.

In early May, President Trump asked Congress to rescind, or cut, $15 billion in funding that was already appropriated for programs ranging from rescinding $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program to $159 million from Federal and local police departments and other law enforcement programs. The president’s rescission package also includes clawing back $252 million meant to combat the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases. It is widely recognized by health experts that the Ebola virus remains a global threat. Just last week, a new case of the Ebola virus was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million in the Congo, and a least two dozen people have already died from this latest outbreak. Three years ago the Ebola virus killed 11,300 people in far less densely populated regions of West Africa.

In their letter, the senators wrote: “When Congress appropriated these funds in 2015, it did so to address an existing health crisis and to respond to Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases in the future. The funds will help respond to this latest outbreak in the (Democratic Republic of Congo), and it will enable other countries vulnerable to future outbreaks to be better prepared to respond – thereby saving lives and limiting the immense costs to taxpayers of trying to contain infectious diseases.”

Headed by Leahy, the letter is signed by members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Christopher Murphy (D-Conn). Leahy is also Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

Full text of the letter is available at: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/052218EbolaFundingLetter.pdf and below:

May 22, 2018

President Donald Trump

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

With news of another deadly Ebola outbreak, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we are writing to urge you to withdraw your proposal to rescind funds that were appropriated and are available to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Your letter to Congress, dated May 8, proposed rescinding $252,000,000 – the entirety of the remaining balances – from the International Disaster Assistance account at the U.S. Agency for International Development on the grounds that the funds were “no longer needed because the Ebola response has largely concluded.” Clearly this is not the case. In fact, it is widely recognized by global health experts that Ebola will remain a potential threat for the foreseeable future – including to millions of Americans here and abroad.

This week, the World Health Organization reported that a new Ebola virus case was confirmed in the urban area of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million in Congo. That Ebola has infected inhabitants of a densely populated area is alarming; just three years ago Ebola claimed the lives of more than 11,300 people in mostly rural communities in West Africa.

When Congress appropriated these funds in 2015, it did so to address an existing health crisis and to respond to Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases in the future. The funds will help respond to this latest Ebola outbreak in the DRC, and it will enable other countries vulnerable to future outbreaks to be better prepared to respond – thereby saving lives and limiting the immense costs to taxpayers of trying to contain infectious diseases once they occur.

We therefore urge you to withdraw your rescission proposal and enable USAID to use these funds for their intended purpose.

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY
United States Senator

RICHARD J. DURBIN
United States Senator

CHRISTOPHER A. COONS
United States Senator

JEANNE SHAHEEN
United States Senator

JEFF MERKLEY
United States Senator

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
United States Senator

CHRIS MURPHY
United States Senator

This article provided by NewsEdge.