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House OKs defense funds for Ebola mission

House OKs defense funds for Ebola mission

House lawmakers are ready to shift nearly $1 billion in defense funds to fight the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Now military officials are just waiting for the Senate’s support.

On Thursday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said his members received briefings from Pentagon officials this week about the goals of the mission and protections in place for U.S. forces.

Lawmakers had raised concerns about those issues earlier this month after President Obama announced plans to send as many as 4,000 U.S. troops to West Africa to help with humanitarian efforts.

“While I maintain concerns, particularly regarding the safety and security of our military personnel supporting this mission, DoD has provided us with much of their force protection plan and the other information requested,” McKeon said in a statement.

“Releasing these funds marks the beginning of the committee’s oversight of this important mission, not the end.”

Congress had already allowed defense officials to shift about $100 million in program funds to the Ebola operations. Thursday’s move, if the Senate acts, would allow planners access to another $750 million, which the Pentagon estimates will pay for the first six months of the Africa mission.

But the Senate has not yet signed off on the plan. Staffers for Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said he still has lingering questions about the mission, and is working with defense officials.

In his statement, McKeon also noted the “selfless bravery of our men and women in uniform who are deploying to contain the outbreak.”

The disease has sickened about 8,000 individuals and killed nearly 3,500 people in Africa, but raised concerns worldwide due to its aggressive spread. On Wednesday, a man in Texas became the first person to die of the disease on U.S. soil.

Read More:House OKs defense funds for Ebola mission | Military Times | militarytimes.com.

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