Senior White House officials on Thursday scaled up the rhetoric of their effort to secure emergency funding to fight the Ebola virus in the U.S. and abroad.
“The most important goal here is speed,” said Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan in an on-the-record call with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “It is critical that we fund this quickly and on a scale that is appropriate to the epidemic,” Donovan said.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama sent a request to Congress for $6.18 billion in emergency Ebola preparedness funding. The request includes $4.64 billion that will be used to address immediate needs and $1.54 billion to be set aside as contingency funds. The money is a steep jump from the $88 million request the President issued in September.
“My foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of Americans, and this request supports all necessary steps to fortify our domestic health system and prevent any outbreaks at home,” reads a formal letter Obama sent House Speaker John Boehner.
Donovan and Burwell said Thursday they hope Congress will approve Obama’s request as quickly as it did a similar emergency request in 2009, which the White House made to fight the H1N1 influenza outbreak.
Boehner’s office has said the Appropriations Committee will review the request.
Secretary Burwell said that while the federal response has been effective so far, the government must remain vigilant in order to keep the disease from spreading.
“While we may see additional cases in U.S., we’re confident we can stop the spread,” Burwell said Thursday. Only one person in the U.S. is currently undergoing treatment for Ebola. Burwell said some people in Texas who are being monitored after potential exposure to Ebola, are nearing the end of the 21-day incubation period after which they will no longer be in danger of contracting or transmitting the disease.