Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged his colleagues on Wednesday to support the President’s emergency funding request for the fight against Ebola, and warned about the danger in cutting funds from efforts to stop the virus in West Africa. The comments came during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on President Obama's $6.2 billion emergency request to fight the Ebola outbreak.
“The single best way for us to protect American lives is to engage vigorously in the work and the fight against Ebola on the ground in West Africa,” Senator Coons said at the hearing. “This emergency funding request provides support for every facet of what’s needed to keep Americans safe, first by strengthening and bolstering our readiness here in the United States, but principally by ensuring that we contain Ebola in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Guinea, and prevent its spread to neighboring countries.”
Senator Coons also recounted a conversation he had last week with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “who wanted me to make a point of thanking the American people for our generosity and our engagement, but urged us not to let off now. Just because there is some hopeful news doesn’t mean that we’ve turned the corner on this, and in the region, it still remains a dangerous and difficult time.”
The Senator expressed his gratitude for the “remarkable sacrifice” of the volunteers, missionaries, aid workers, and military personnel who have deployed to West Africa to fight the virus, and reiterated his opposition to a “travel ban” that would prevent them from returning to the United States. “Americans who go abroad should not be stigmatized when they return; should be honored and supported in their commitment and service; and should have confidence that they can return from their service, and be supported when they do so.”