GOP wants Obama assurances on Ebola

GOP wants Obama assurances on Ebola
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Six Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Obama administration on Friday to verify that officials have “adequate plans in place” to protect the U.S. from the international Ebola outbreak.

The GOP lawmakers penned a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell seeking more details about the money and resources dedicated to combating the disease both abroad and at home.

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As concerns over Ebola have widely increased, the letter also asks Burwell to explain the level of threat that the U.S. currently faces.

“While U.S public health officials have offered assurances — both publicly and during briefings with committee staff — that the Ebola outbreak can be controlled, they are expressing increasingly dire warnings about its growth and the need for quick, decisive action,” the letter reads. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that Ebola “does not pose a ‘significant risk’ to the United States.”

But CDC Director Tom Frieden told congressional staff last week that it is “not possible to be overly concerned” with the epidemic, according to the letter.  

U.S. officials have maintained that the disease is unlikely to spread domestically, but acknowledged that the international response has so far failed to contain the outbreak.

Lawmakers will hold their first hearing on Ebola next Tuesday. The joint Senate hearing will feature top health officials, including Frieden as well as American doctor and Ebola survivor Kent Brantly.

The outbreak, which was first diagnosed in March, has been slow to grab the attention of Congress as the level of domestic threat remains uncertain. More than 2,400 people have died from the disease, as of Friday, though just four patients have been treated in the U.S. 

Health experts warned this week that the outbreak is accelerating at a far more rapid pace than expected, presenting a significant global security risk as the relief effort remains at least three months behind schedule.