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U.S. funds to fight Ebola now top $1 billion, may rise

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(Credit: Reuters) A volunteer health worker practises using a personal protective equipment (PPE) suit at a newly-constructed Ebola virus treatment centre in Monrovia, Liberia, September 21, 2014.Ebola virus treatment centre
October 13
11:29 PM 2014

The U.S. government now has more than $1 billion available to fight the spread of Ebola from West Africa and is proceeding with plans to deploy up to 4,000 military personnel to the region by late October.

Key congressional committee leaders signed off last week on the transfer of $750 million in Defense Department funds to support the military effort.

Here is a rundown of U.S. monetary commitments so far and the status of future funds in the fight against Ebola:

FUNDS COMMITTED:

Various agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pentagon and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had committed to spend about $311 million through Oct. 10, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

This includes $11 million for personal protective equipment, $95 million to develop medical countermeasures, $10 million for community health workers, $35 million to expand laboratory capacity for disease detection, $22 million for field hospitals, $1 million for security and $137 million for laboratory surveillance, logistics and relief commodities and disease detection activities.

AVAILABLE FUNDS:

The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House of Representatives Armed Services committees and Appropriations defense subcommittees approved the Pentagon's transfer of $750 million from its war operations budget, enough to support the West Africa Ebola mission for about six months.

The Pentagon's plan for humanitarian aid includes building 17 Ebola treatment facilities with 100 beds each, training of up to 500 healthcare workers each week and a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital to care for sick health workers.

Congress approved $88 million in a stop-gap government funding measure, including $58 million to accelerate production and development of antiviral drugs and vaccines, and $30 million for CDC personnel, equipment and supplies.

USAID and the State Department have announced a $10 million grant to the African Union to train and equip more than 100 medical workers for West Africa. USAID has also announced plans for up to $75 million in additional Ebola funds.

REQUESTED FUNDS

Republican leaders on the four panels have withheld approval of another $250 million in Pentagon funds from the Obama administration's original $1 billion transfer request. Senator James Inhofe is insisting that another funding source be identified for U.S. operations in Africa beyond six months, and that the effort be shifted to other "more appropriate" agencies and non-profit groups.

FUTURE FUNDS

Appropriations committees in Congress are trying to get a handle on the future funding needs of a sprawling, multi-agency Ebola response effort. The information will help them craft a fiscal 2015 spending bill that needs approval by Dec. 11, when a temporary extension of government funding runs out.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, a Republican, and Representative Nita Lowey, the panel's top Democrat, have asked the administration for a detailed, government-wide Ebola plan by Friday.

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