Obama seeks $6.2B for Ebola fight
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday asked Congress for $6.2 billion in emergency funds to confront Ebola at its source in West Africa and to secure the United States against any possible spread.
Of the total, $2 billion would be apportioned to the United States Agency for International Development and $2.4 billion would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House said. More than $1.5 billion would be for a contingency fund to deal with any unanticipated developments like a flare-up in West Africa or a need to vaccinate U.S. health care workers.
The Ebola money is the first request from Obama in the aftermath of an election that ushered in a Republican-controlled Congress, which is being seen as a repudiation of the president. The Ebola crisis has received bipartisan attention amid concerns over the potential of the disease to spread into the United States.
The White House is asking for prompt action, meaning it wants approval during the current lame duck session, while Democrats are still in control of the Senate. It wants the money on an “emergency” basis, meaning it should be added to the deficit. Republicans, if they agree the money is needed, may press for spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
Republicans have been critical of the administration’s domestic response, criticizing its coordination with states and questioning security measures.
The nearly $2 billion for USAID and $127 million for the State Department would help carry out the mission in West Africa. More than $2.4 billion would go to HHS, but administration officials would not break down the request on the basis of what was to be used to fight the disease overseas and what was meant to boost defenses here.