WH: No decision yet on Ebola funds

The White House has not decided whether to ask Congress for additional funding to combat Ebola, press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.
 
But the administration remains optimistic that lawmakers would be willing to sign off on additional funding requests it presents, amid intense scrutiny over the federal government's response to the deadly virus.
 
"We have not made any decisions about whether additional resources are necessary," Earnest said. "But if we determine that they are, we'll certainly be working closely with our partners in Congress to try to get them. And I think that we have seen in the last several weeks an acknowledgement from Democrats and Republicans that this is a serious issue that is worthy of the attention of the federal government."
 
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On Thursday, the president called Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to discuss the Ebola crisis. Earnest had previously hinted that Obama could request additional funding, saying he "wouldn't take it off the table."
 
"Congress obviously controls the purse strings, and so it’s important for us to make sure that members of Congress who have an interest in this issue and have an interest in the kinds of policies that will contribute to this response are aware of the strategy that we’re pursuing and are on board with it," Earnest said. "We certainly want to give those members of Congress an opportunity to offer up their advice."
 
But neither the lawmakers nor the White House would describe what was discussed in the phone calls.
 
Congress has already cleared the Pentagon to re-allocate $750 million to fight Ebola, and lawmakers separately funded an additional $88 million in the most recent continuing resolution.
 
The Washington Post reported Thursday night that the White House had been reaching out to lawmakers to discourage any legislation implementing a travel ban against the three African countries where the Ebola outbreak is concentrated — Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Dozens of lawmakers — including some Democrats — have called for such a bill.
 
Earnest would not say if that issue came up in the presidential phone call with congressional leaders.
 
"If there was a discussion in any of those conversations about the wisdom of a travel ban, I'm confident the president gave a case very similar to the one that you heard him deliver in the Oval Office last night," Earnest said. In his address, the president said health experts believed such a move would be dangerous.