Inhofe OKs Ebola Funds

By Tony Bertuca / October 10, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said today he is in favor of approving $750 million the Pentagon has requested be reprogrammed from the fiscal year 2014 budget to fight Ebola in West Africa.

Inhofe was initially skeptical of the Pentagon's Ebola plans due to concerns regarding the protection of military personnel.

"When the Senate Armed Services Committee first received the Administration's request to reprogram $1 billion in defense funding to support the Ebola mission in West Africa, I raised numerous concerns about the lack of a coherent strategy, insufficient details on how our men and women in uniform would be protected, and a failure to consider a transition of financial and operational responsibility from our military to a more appropriate entity," he said in a statement. "In response, the Defense Department came forward Wednesday with additional information regarding the protocol to care for the health of our servicemembers serving in the region."

Inhofe, however, remains concerned that DOD will continue the Ebola mission over the long haul.

"As for my concerns on transitioning this likely long-term mission to more appropriate government agencies and non-government organizations when the requested money runs out, the administration still has not come forward with a plan," he said. "The slow response by the president's State Department and international community when Ebola was first considered an outbreak in March has contributed to the crisis we are confronted with today. After careful consideration, I believe that the outbreak has reached a point that the only organization in the world able to provide the capabilities and speed necessary to respond to this crisis is the U.S. military."

Inhofe, who could become chairman of the committee should the GOP take the Senate in next month's mid-term elections, said it will be difficult for him to support any further efforts to use military funding to fight Ebola.

"That is why I have insisted another more appropriate funding source be identified for operations beyond six months," he said. "Significant cuts to the defense budget have eroded the readiness and capabilities of our military, and I cannot support the indefinite commitment of our troops to this mission."