One of the most immediate tasks facing the lame-duck Congress as it returns to Capitol Hill today is considering President Obama’s recent request for $6.2 billion to fight Ebola. Senate appropriators were scheduled to hear from administration officials on the issue this afternoon.
Such unexpected crises underscore the importance of responsible federal budgeting.
“Whether it’s Ebola, ISIS, or the child migrant crisis, our nation faced a number of unforeseen challenges this year that required action (and emergency spending) by the federal government,” says Ben Ritz, The Concord Coalition’s outreach director. “These challenges serve as reminders of a key underlying purpose of fiscal responsibility: To enable the country to deal with the unexpected.”
In a recent blog post, he adds that responsible budgeting includes making sure tax and spending policies reflect our national priorities:
“If federal investment in hospital and emergency preparedness is important to us, for example, we must be willing to carve space for it when budgeting. In the current budgetary environment, this type of spending is subject to tight caps and sequester cuts.”
Spending on Centers for Disease Control emergency preparedness accounted for less than 0.05 percent of the federal budget in 2013, or $1.8 billion — its lowest level in over a decade.
Fact Sheet on Administration’s Ebola Funding Request