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McConnell Says CDC Should Get Money Needed to Battle Ebola

If federal health agencies under President Barack Obama want more money to fight Ebola, they should get it, according to the Senate’s top Republican.  

“I think they should have anything they want. The president asked for $88 million a few weeks ago, we gave it to him,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told MSNBC . “Whatever the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] thinks they need, we’ll give it to them.”  

The White House hasn’t yet requested more money, although some Democrats have blasted cuts to the CDC budget and other accounts from sequestration.  

MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked McConnell about recent comments by National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins about how funding levels have contributed to delays in developing a vaccination for Ebola, as well as the broader question of if more funding is needed to handle the immediate crisis.  

As for the calls for the calls for travel restrictions such as flight bans, McConnell deferred to the health officials at the CDC, something many senators in his caucus have not done.  

On Wednesday, House Democrats on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee reiterated a request of outgoing subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., for a hearing on medical research funding. Kingston’s Senate counterpart, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, has previously pointed to the Ebola situation as a cause for considering an omnibus spending bill before the end of the year, to fund health agencies dealing with the events at home and abroad.  

“We cannot afford to put the government back on autopilot, hampering the work of the CDC and agencies on the frontlines of controlling Ebola,” Harkin said in an Oct. 3 statement. “We must increase resources for CDC, not just to continue their work in the three countries most affected, but also to ramp up surveillance in the 11 countries surrounding the outbreak.”  

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