Congress worries Ebola could hit US, become more contagious

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Alexander Bolton and Justin Sink

Lawmakers are increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could jump to the United States and become more contagious.

President Obama on Tuesday unveiled new plans to surge U.S. support to West Africa that includes sending thousands of U.S. military personnel to the region and establishing a command-and-control center, and new hospitals to aid in the fight.

But lawmakers worry the president’s efforts might not be enough to contain the outbreak. Already, an estimated 2,400 have died from the disease, and the United Nations estimates $1 billion could be necessary to limit the epidemic.

“We’re late to this challenge,” warned Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed those comments.

“I think this Ebola outbreak in Africa is a serious problem, and I’m a bit surprised the administration hasn’t acted more quickly to address what is a serious threat, not only to Africans, but to others around the world,” Boehner said.

Obama’s speech at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on the administration’s latest efforts to control the epidemic is partly a response to worries the situation in West Africa is getting worse.

“If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” Obama said. “So, this is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it’s a potential threat to global security.”

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