HHS, DHS chiefs to testify on Ebola funding

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson are among the witnesses who expected to testify on the government’s response to Ebola at an upcoming Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

The committee announced the witnesses on Thursday and moved the hearing to Nov. 12, after the midterm elections.

Other witnesses expected to testify include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as officials from the State Department, Defense Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The president’s Ebola czar, Ron Klain, is not slated to testify.

The hearing is scheduled to take place a week before Congress returns to Washington for the lame-duck session. A government spending bill will be at the top of their agenda before a short-term funding bill expires Dec. 11.

The hearing also comes after the Obama administration ramped up its response to Ebola after a series of incidents and mistakes that resulted in several healthcare workers being infected

It will mark the first appropriations hearing Congress has held on Ebola. A number of other congressional panels have also held hearings examining the administration’s response to the deadly disease over the last month. 

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee are pushing the chairman of their health subcommittee, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), to also hold a hearing on additional funding for the Ebola crisis.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanded that the committee return to Washington to discuss the issue, but Republicans on the panel have not responded.

It is unclear if the Obama administration will ask for Congress to approve any additional funding for anti-Ebola efforts. Officials had suggested several weeks ago that could happen, but a spokeswoman at the Office of Management and Budget told The Hill this week she had no updates.

Lawmakers approved $88 million to fight Ebola in the stopgap spending bill passed in September. Congress also approved an administration request to shift $750 million in Pentagon funds to the Ebola response.

Any additional funding would likely be included in an omnibus spending bill lawmakers are expected to hash out in the next two months.