Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Speech: Ebola Epidemic

Posted on September 16, 2014

Before discussing the legislation involving the National Labor Relations Board which the Republican leader mentioned, I wish to align myself with his comments on the Ebola epidemic.  In my view, he is right to support the president's effort for a more urgent response to this epidemic. 

I am not given to making overstatements – I think that would be a fair reputation in this body – but I believe we should treat the Ebola epidemic as seriously as we treat the danger of ISIS.  Why would I say that?  Because the head of the Centers for Disease Control and our United Nations Ambassador, who is working with other countries to get them involved, say this:  This is one of the most deadly, explosive epidemics in modern times.  It moves rapidly.  There is no vaccine, and there is no cure.  One sick person can fairly quickly infect 20 other persons within a family in these West African countries where it is now a problem.  One can see how quickly this could spread and become hundreds of thousands of cases or even millions of cases.

This is a case where Samantha Power said to me, “We should be running toward burning flames with our fireproof suits on.”  In other words, we know how to control it.  We know how to identify sick people and isolate them and treat them.  Even though half of them die, we know how to do that.  But the rate of growth of this epidemic is so rapid that we need to have a response that is as urgent as the problem.

I congratulate the Republican leader for supporting the president's effort today to call attention to this.  So much is happening in the world, and there is a possibility that we would treat the Ebola epidemic as an important issue but not a major issue.  As I said, I believe we must take the deadly, dangerous threat of Ebola as seriously as we take the threat of ISIS. 

I support the administration's recommendation to spend $30 million in the continuing resolution to upgrade the public health efforts there.  I support the reprogramming of $500 million to involve the military in a way to deal with this.  I support the effort to spend $58 million, which would be to fast track efforts to develop a treatment and cure, as well as vaccines to prevent it.   

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