White House officials urged a Senate Appropriations Committee to approve an additional $6 billion in funding for Ebola preparation in the United States during a hearing on Wednesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, M.D., and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell were among several witnesses who asked Congress to approve President Barack Obama's Ebola-prevention funding request as part of its year-end appropriations.
Committee Republicans appeared open to the funding request but questioned the witnesses on the possibility of restricting travel to and from the West African countries affected by the outbreak. Frieden reiterated his position that travel bans could exacerbate the outbreak and hinder efforts to contain the virus in Africa.
"Their vulnerability is our vulnerability," he said. "Right now, we're dealing with a cluster in Mali. That cluster has to be controlled, or we are going to have another front in the battle against Ebola. We have staff on the ground doing that there."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has scaled back the number of troops it plans to send to the affected region to fight the virus, according to Politico. The military will deploy about 3,000 troops, approximately 1,000 fewer than the original estimate, Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, told reporters.
"There's a lot of capacity here we didn't know about before that enabled us to reduce the forces we thought we originally had to bring," he said.
American and Liberian health officials are similarly considering scaling back plans to build 17 Ebola treatment centers, according to the New York Times. As the outbreak in Liberia dies down, officials may shift the treatment center funds to other initiatives to prepare for possible future outbreaks
Despite these developments, the outbreak's death toll has passed 5,000, according to the latest report from the World Health Organization.