U.S. government spending bill to contain new funds to fight Ebola

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2014 7:51 PM

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation to extend U.S. government funding into the new fiscal year will contain additional funds to fight the Ebola epidemic in Africa, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Rogers said that he was reviewing the Obama administration's request for additional funds for efforts to fight the deadly virus, but declined to say whether the full amount would be granted.

"There will be extra money for the Ebola," the Kentucky Republican said. "We're looking at the numbers now."

The Obama administration has requested an additional $88 million to fight Ebola as part of the spending bill, including $58 million to speed production of the ZMapp experimental antiviral drug and two Ebola vaccine candidates. The request also contains $30 million for additional staff at the Centers for Disease Control to coordinate the response to the epidemic.

The World Health Organization said on Monday that it will likely take six to nine months to contain the epidemic in West Africa, and the disease may infect up to 20,000 people. The epidemic has killed 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal.

Rogers said the additional U.S. Ebola funds would be offset by savings elsewhere in the federal budget to stay within previously determined spending caps.

He said he expects the legislation to be introduced on Tuesday so that it can come up for a vote in the House this week. He said it would be a "clean" continuing resolution that extends current funding levels for several weeks from Oct. 1 with no new controversial policy provisions.

Rogers also declined to provide details on the length of the measure, which congressional aides have said would likely last until about mid-December.

Rogers also declined to say whether the stop-gap funding measure would extend the charter for the U.S. Export-Import Bank past its Sept. 30 expiration date, or whether it would contain any funding for President Barack Obama's military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

(Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Bernard Orr)