Lawmakers slam Ebola response

Lawmakers slam Ebola response
© Francis Rivera

Lawmakers in both parties are hammering the Obama administration's response to Ebola, calling for significant improvements to stop the virus's spread in Dallas and elsewhere. 

“By underestimating both the severity of the danger and overstating the ability of our healthcare system to handle Ebola cases, mistakes have been made,” said Rep. Tim MurphyTim MurphyA federal abortion law might be needed Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Pennsylvania New Members 2019 MORE (R-Pa.), who opened Thursday's congressional hearing on the virus. 

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“The trust and credibility of the administration and government are waning as the American public loses confidence each day with demonstrated failures of the current strategy,” Murphy said. “That trust must be restored, but will only be restored with honest and thorough action.” 

The remarks set the tone for the standing-room-only hearing, where lawmakers took aim at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden and other witnesses. 

“It would be an understatement to say that the response to the first U.S.-based patient has been mismanaged, causing risk to scores of additional people,” said subcommittee ranking member Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteA dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal FDA under pressure to move fast on vaping Lawmakers criticize EPA draft rule for curbing rights to challenge pollution permits MORE (D-Colo.). 

“I am greatly concerned ... that the administration did not act fast enough when responding in Texas,” said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who is locked in a tight Senate race. 

Republicans also pressed the administration to adopt travel restrictions from West Africa, an idea that Frieden and others have spent weeks trying to tamp down. 

“I restate my ongoing concern that administration officials still refuse to consider any travel restrictions for the more than 1,000 travelers a week entering the U.S. from Ebola hot zones. We need action,” Murphy said. 

“We can no longer be reacting to each day's crisis. We must be pro-active in getting head of this,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonGOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine House passes bill to revamp medical screenings for migrants at border Energy efficiency cannot be a partisan issue for Washington MORE (R-Mich.).

Frieden did not specifically address criticism in his opening remarks. 

"There is a lot of understandable concern about the cases in Dallas," he said, adding "The CDC works 24/7 to protect Americans ... we're always open to new ideas." 

"There are no shortcuts in the control of Ebola and it is not easy to control it. To protect the United States, we have to stop it at the source," he said.