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 MurphyBiden receives endorsements from three swing-district Democrats A federal abortion law might be needed Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations 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 DeGetteHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds House Democrats press Twitter, Facebook, Google for reports on coronavirus disinformation Short-term health plans leave consumers on the hook for massive medical costs, investigation finds 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 lawmaker: Refusal to wear masks is 'tragic' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push 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.