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WSJ: Obama Urges Congress to Pass Ebola Funding Before Holiday Break

December 2, 2014
News Stories

Wall Street Journal - Byron Tau

President Barack Obama invoked the responsibility of the U.S. to lead on the world stage as he renewed his call for Congress to pass a $6.2 billion emergency aid package aimed at combating the Ebola outbreak.

Speaking at an event at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., Mr. Obama said American leadership at home and abroad was needed to tackle the deadly disease worldwide. “We need to protect the American people, and we need to show the world how America leads,” the president said.

“American leadership matters, every time. We set the tone, and we set the agenda,” Mr. Obama said, after a brief tour of the research facilities, located just outside Washington, D.C.

Last week, the World Health Organization reported that more than 5,600 people have died from the current Ebola outbreak.

The president’s visit to NIH was sparked by last week’s announcement by researchers there that an early clinical trial of a potential Ebola vaccine appeared to be safe and ready for a field trial in West Africa later this year or early next year. “No potential Ebola vaccine has ever made it this far, so this is exciting news,” the president said.

“The work you do here is remarkable,” Mr. Obama said. “Part of American leadership in the world—one of the things that has always marked us as exceptional—is our leadership in science and our leadership in research.”

In his 20-minute remarks, the president called on Congress to ensure that the aid package was passed before the congressional holiday break—calling it a bipartisan, common-sense measure that would protect both Americans and people around the world.

The White House requests for additional funds to address the Ebola outbreak and the threat from Islamic State militants are under negotiation as part of the House-Senate talks over a funding measure through next September, a congressional aide said.

“We’re going to try and be as helpful as we can be,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Those just aren’t appropriate political weapons and they ought to both be approached in a bipartisan way.”

Mr. Obama linked the current Ebola outbreak to the need for additional public investments in science and research—calling the outbreak and the work on a potential vaccine “a reminder of the importance of government funded research and our need to keep investing in basic research.”

He also warned that the world needed to be vigilant to keep the disease from spreading any further. “Every hot spot is an ember; if not contained, it can become a new fire,” Mr. Obama said.

Online: Wall Street Journal