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Continued FY 2015 Appropriations Headed for Lame-Duck Session

The Ebola crisis and the Administration’s request for funds to fight the spread of the outbreak led House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and the Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) to ask the National Security Adviser and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for information on how the executive agencies are coordinating their response as well as efforts to employ the efforts of foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). They said they recognize the need to act quickly and that “Understanding the objectives and being informed of how the funds are being put to use will help us work with you to assure the resources are available in the most effective manner to bring the epidemic under control….” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) cited the Ebola issue as a key reason that Congress should avoid another CR in the lame-duck session when Congress returns to session after the November elections and, instead, pass an omnibus appropriations bill providing continuous funding for agencies in fiscal year (FY) 2015. The crisis deepened when another person entered the United States and was later diagnosed with Ebola. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “It’s not impossible that we will have other individuals come into the country and be diagnosed with Ebola….” He said that isolating affected countries “may be a solution to a complex problem that is quick, simple and wrong” in response to a growing chorus in Congress for the curtailment of airline flights into the United States from countries with high rates of Ebola cases. On another subject, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Gene Green (D-TX) spearheaded an effort by a majority of senators and over 200 House members imploring appropriators to extend beyond FY 2015 the existence of a federal account for community health centers (CHC) which currently pays for up to 70% of CHC operational costs. They said that without an extension of the fund the centers will go over a financial cliff which could lead to “a loss of access to primary and preventive care for millions of patients who often have no other place to turn.”

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