Appropriations Cardinals Urge Administration to Use Existing Funds to Respond to Zika Virus; Reps. Rogers, Cole and Granger say immediate use of “substantial” unobligated Ebola funds will help meet urgent needs of response to Zika outbreak
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, and Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole sent a letter today to Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, urging the Administration to pursue the use of current unobligated funds, including Ebola funds, to meet the immediate needs of response to the Zika outbreak.
On February 9, 2016, Director Donovan sent a letter to the Committee indicating the Administration’s intent to transmit a fiscal year 2016 emergency appropriations request of more than $1.8 billion in response to the spread of the Zika virus domestically and internationally.
“If the aim of the request is to mount as rapid a response as possible, it is clear to us that the most expeditious way to identify the needed funding is to maximize the use of unobligated funds previously provided for Ebola response, prevention, and preparedness in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015,” the letter states. “These funds can and should be prioritized to meet the most pressing needs of mounting a rapid and full response to Zika.”
The letter outlines the existing funding available within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Department of State that could be used for Zika response.
Within HHS, of the $2.767 billion provided for Ebola response, $1.440 remains unobligated as of December 31, 2015. Within USAID and the Department of State, of the $2.526 billion provided for Ebola response, approximately $1.3 billion remains unobligated.
“If additional funds are then needed to backfill the use of these funds in the future, we stand ready to consider such a request as part of the FY 2017 appropriations process,” the letter continues. “But if an urgent response is what is required, then it seems clear that substantial funds are already available without any further delay.”
The text of the letter can be found here: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/02.18.16_zika_letter.pdf