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Harkin Calls for Omnibus Bill When Senate Returns

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of both the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (the LHHS subcommittee) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement calling for an Omnibus bill to provide sufficient resources to all federal agencies on the frontlines of controlling Ebola and other infectious diseases as well as lifting the post-sequester caps that return next year when the Murray-Ryan deal expires. 

"When Congress reconvenes in November, we must enact an Omnibus bill that will provide sufficient resources to all of the federal agencies that are doing lifesaving work in the U.S. and overseas. 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. "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.” 

Continued Harkin, "On a broader level, this outbreak reaffirms my belief that we must help countries develop their own capacities. In effect, every country needs a CDC. A program I championed, the National Public Health Institutes, is doing just that but in only five countries. More funding is needed to expand the program to the twenty-four countries that want to participate, including 11 in Africa.

“Here at home, we need to train doctors in what to look for, and strengthen our quarantine stations at the 20 busiest entry-points to the US. Finally, we must fund basic research for better treatments in the future as well as clinical trials for potential vaccines and therapies that are in the pipeline now. We cannot afford to let any potential vaccine be unexplored. This outbreak makes it clear that we should not allow the sequester cuts to come back next year. With Ebola on our shores, we must lift the sequester, not double down on it.”

On September 16, Senator Harkin convened a joint hearing regarding “Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat,” as chair of both the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee and the HELP Committee. This joint hearing was the first hearing in the U.S. Senate regarding Ebola.