House Republican plans Ebola bill

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said Thursday plans to introduce a bill to bolster the government’s overseas efforts to fight Ebola.

The bill, which he called the Ebola Emergency Response Act, calls for more treatment centers, better training for recruiting and training healthcare workers and developing vaccines and treatments.

“It confirms U.S. policy in the anti-Ebola fight and provides necessary authorities for the administration to continue or expanded anticipated actions,” Smith said during a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


He said it would also encourage the U.S. to work with other organizations and donors “to mitigate the risk of economic collapse and civil unrest” in the three worst-affected countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The bill is one of several that have been proposed to stop Ebola, but it is the first to focus solely on international efforts. He did not immediately provide a copy of the bill, though he said it was developed with members across the aisle and had supported from the committee’s chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

Smith’s legislation arrives in a political climate, where the issue of Ebola has largely lost steam, despite the worsening situation in West Africa. Only a handful of lawmakers remained at the end of the two-hourlong hearing, which also drew little media attention.

Members of Congress are still weighing the White House's latest emergency funding request for Ebola — a whopping $6.18 billion.

“We desperately need this emergency funding requests," Rajiv Shah, the head of U.S. Agency for International Development, said during the hearing. "We will literally be shutting down [without it]."

Rep. Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert Johnson Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan Lobbying world Social Security is approaching crisis territory MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) both officially submitted bills on Congress’s first day back on Wednesday. Both called for restricted access into the United States for West African travelers, through visas or flight bans.

Smith also announced that the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, which he heads, would hold another hearing Tuesday.

Congress has already held more than a half-dozen hearings on Ebola, which was first diagnosed in West Africa in December 2013 and first appeared in the U.S. in late September.