Senate Appropriations to hold Ebola hearing in November

Senate Appropriations to hold Ebola hearing in November
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The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing in early November on funding for the government’s response to Ebola, Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiHarris invites every female senator to dinner next week Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Bottom line MORE (D-Md.) announced Monday.

The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6, just two days after the midterm elections and before the full Congress is set to return to Washington. A list of those scheduled to appear will be announced later, the committee said. 

It would mark the first appropriations hearing on Ebola since Congress recessed in September. A number of other congressional panels have also held hearings examining the administration’s response to the deadly disease in recent weeks. 

But Democrats are blaming the administration’s initially slow response to Ebola on Republican budget cuts to health agencies and are urging lawmakers to discuss additional funding.

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Democrats on the House Appropriations health subcommittee asked their panel’s chairman, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), to also hold a hearing to weigh additional funding for the Ebola crisis but did not receive a response. They also appealed to the full committee chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), on Friday.

Asked why Kingston had not responded to the request, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said only, “The Committee currently has no hearings scheduled as the Congress is in recess.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also demanded last week that the House Appropriations Committee "return to Washington immediately’’ for a hearing on Ebola.

The administration has also hinted it might ask Congress to approve more money to respond to the outbreak.

On Friday, Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Emily Cain told The Hill, “OMB is working with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other agencies to determine whether additional resources will be needed to address the epidemic beyond those provided in the Continuing Resolution.”

Lawmakers approved $88 million to fight Ebola in a stopgap spending bill passed in February. 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 lame-duck session.