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Federal Spending on Ebola Set to Exceed $1 Billion 

The Obama Administration has requested $1 billion in Department of Defense (DoD) reappropriations to augment efforts to contain the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. 

As of late October, the House Appropriations, House Armed Services, and Senate Armed Services committees have approved $750 million dollars in DoD reappropriations, which will come from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) budget, though the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has yet to approve this request. Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) announced the SAC will hold a hearing on Ebola reappropriations on November 6th, shortly after the midterm elections. 

This $750 million would be used for the construction of 17 new medical and treatment facilities, as well as building more support laboratories, training medical personnel, and covering the cost in logistics associated with the deployment of 4,000 US troops to West Africa over the course of six months. The US Naval Medical Research Center currently operates three Ebola testing labs, and there have already been requests for several more; this funding would help cover the cost of opening additional labs and bringing in trained scientists.   General David Rodriguez, commander of Africa Command, indicated that troops would be headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, in coordination with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). The objective of this initiative is 70% of all infected persons taken to treatment facilities, at which point CDC projections indicate the rate of infections will steadily decrease. In late October, the World Health Organization reported that to date there have been more than 13,700 cases of Ebola in six countries, and 4,922 deaths. 


The Office of Management and Budget reported $311.3 million dollars has already been spent by the CDC, DoD, USAID, and National Institutes of Health by October. The items listed below were paid for by existing appropriations as reported by Reuters: 

  • $1 million in security costs
  • $10 million for health workers
  • $11 million for protective gear
  • $22 million for field hospitals
  • $35 million for increased laboratory detection and screening capabilities
  • $95 million for the development of medical countermeasures, of which: $8.6 million went to Profectus BioSciences Inc. for the development of an Ebola vaccine; and $58 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
  • $137 million for laboratory surveillance, logistics and relief commodities

The Hill reported in late October that the Obama Administration is in the midst of talks with members of Congress for additional funding on top of the $750 million DoD reappropriations and $311 million already spent. Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee James Inhofe (R-OK) has expressed his concern with the limited six month duration of funding, and has called for longer term appropriations—though he has also expressed great concern over the lack of overall strategy for tackling Ebola.

In early October, General Rodriguez indicated the Ebola mission would likely last one year but could take longer, “We're going to stay as long as we're needed. ... It will be about a year, but that is just a guess… This is not a small effort, and this is not a short period of time.” Additional funding to support DoD efforts related to Ebola beyond the next six months would likely come from additional reappropriations within OCO budget, and BARDA and the CDC will probably continue to be heavily involved with developing and testing Ebola countermeasures regardless of where the next round of funding is drawn.

 


Sources

  1. U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa, Office of the Press Secretary, 2014. 
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/16/fact-sheet-us-response-ebola-epidemic-west-africa
  2. Factbox: U.S. funds to fight Ebola now top $1 billion, may rise, David Lawder, 2014. 
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/13/us-health-ebola-usa-money-idUSKCN0I223N20141013   
  3. House approves $750M in Ebola funding held up in Senate panel, Kristina Wong, 2014. 
    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/220288-house-approves-750m-in-ebola-funding-still-held-up-in-senate
  4. White House begins talks with Congress on new Ebola funding, Justin Sink, 2014. 
    http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/221243-white-house-begins-talks-with-congress-on-new-ebola-funding
  5. Senate Appropriations to hold Ebola hearing in November, Rebecca Shabad, 2014. 
    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/221247-approps-chairwoman-announces-ebola-funding-hearing
  6. Ebola by the numbers, Rebecca Shabad, 2014. 
    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/221118-ebola-by-the-numbers
  7. TRANSCRIPT: Pentagon Briefing on DoD Response to Ebola with GEN Rodriguez, United States Africa Command, 2014.
    http://www.africom.mil/newsroom/article/23695/transcript-pentagon-briefing-on-dod-response-to-ebola-with-gen-rodriguez
  8. Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report, World Health Organization, 2014.
    http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/137376/1/roadmapsitrep_29Oct2014_eng.pdf?ua=1
  9. Holdout Senator Frees Up Military’s Ebolda Funding, John Hudson and Kate Brannen, 2014.
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/10/09/militarys_ebola_funding_tied_up_in_the_senate
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