Senator wants specifics on Military’s safety before approving Ebola funds

Jim Inhofe is the senior United States senator from Oklahoma and a member of the Republican Party. He is on the Armed Forces Committee and serving in the Army from 1956-1958. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants more details on financial, logistic, and safety demands of the U.S. before releasing funds for assistance to Africa for the battle of the Ebola outbreak.

According to Stars and Stripes, Inhofe is concerned about the burden the assistance may impose on an already stretched defense budget.  Additionally, he wants assurances on how the military will protect American personnel sent to Africa, including how it will prevent them from contracting the disease.

Because the funding is coming from a war-time account, both top Republicans and Democrats of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have to approve and sign off on the transfer of monies.  Administration submitted two requests totaling $1 billion.  So far, a $50 million first installment has been approved but more details are needed before they will agree to more funding.

Longview News-Journal reported the Pentagon has been slow in providing answers to the concerns of officials.  What is known is that money would go to transport troops and health care providers and supplies to remote locations for the treatment of Ebola patients.  Materials and equipment would include isolations units, protective suits, temporary shelters, and medications.

“The Ebola outbreak is clearly a crisis that has reached a level of international health and security concern.  I agree that additional funding is now necessary to help the affected region and to stop the spread of this horrible and rapidly growing epidemic,” said Rogers, R-KY.  “However, it is imperative that any U.S. efforts are conducted in a clear and transparent manner to ensure the proper use of taxpayer dollars and our armed forces, the effectiveness of response activities, and the protection of the health and safety of American military and civilian personnel abroad.”

Earlier this week, U.S. health officials released a statement that indicated, in a worst case scenario, the number of infected could rise to 1.4 million by January.  Authorities think an aggressive showing would equal less people getting the disease.  The Pentagon would allocate 3,000 military troops to Africa and the operation would last a minimum of six months.

Inhofe wants details on the roles and responsibilities of the personnel sent to battle the epidemic.  He is withholding his approval until he gets more information.  He is also concerned that the military is already struggling with budget cuts.

Administration is seeking transfer authority by this weekend, but the actual deadline for the request is not until September 30.

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