Key Dem wants increased funding to fight Ebola in Omnibus

Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinNew Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Democrats must question possible political surveillance Wisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed MORE (D-Iowa) on Friday called for Congress to increase funding to fight Ebola as part of an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck session of Congress after the elections.

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The senator said Congress should increase resources for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is already involved in monitoring the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. this week.

"When Congress reconvenes in November, we must enact an Omnibus bill that will provide sufficient resources to all of the federal agencies that are doing lifesaving work in the U.S. and overseas. We cannot afford to put the government back on autopilot, hampering the work of the [Centers for Disease Control] and agencies on the frontlines of controlling Ebola," said Harkin, the chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the CDC.

American doctors should be trained to look for Ebola symptoms, Harkin said, adding that quarantine stations at 20 entry-points to the U.S. should be strengthened. 

Congress should also fund research for better treatment and for a potential vaccine, he said.

Harkin said the U.S. should expand a program that would help other countries in Africa prepare to fight the deadly disease. The Ebola virus has already infected people in Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Appropriators plan to offer an omnibus spending bill in the post-election session that would fund the government through Sept. 30, 2015. The government is now operating on a short-term spending measure that expires on Dec. 11.