Even so, aides said there are questions about whether any additional money to fight Ebola must be offset elsewhere in the budget, including being subject to spending caps for 2015.
As they wait for any White House request for money, House Democrats on Friday continued to call for a hearing on whether the CDC and NIH funding is adequate, in light of the threat posed by the Ebola virus. The demand has been pending for a week, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday also joining in the call for Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., chairman of the Labor-Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee, to convene his panel immediately.
The senior GOP aide said that House Republicans still have no plans to schedule a hearing while Congress remains adjourned. (The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee does plan to hold a hearing next Friday on "the effectiveness of interagency coordination" in the Ebola fight.)
In a new letter Friday to Appropriations Chairman Rogers, subcommittee ranking member Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Appropriations Committee ranking member Nita Lowey of New York, and other Democrats pressed their concerns that budget cuts over the past four years have forced the public health infrastructure at the CDC and the Health and Human Services Department "to make do with less."
However, there is disagreement on the scope of those cuts, and the reasons for it.
Many Democrats assert that NIH funding has been cut by $1.2 billion over the past four years, before adjusting for inflation. And when accounting for inflation, they say, NIH has lost more than 10 percent of its purchasing power since 2010. The CDC program that supports state and local public health professionals working on the front lines has been cut by 16 percent over the last four years, they add, and the federal Hospital Preparedness program has been cut by 44 percent over the last four years.
But a House Republican aide disputes those figures as incorrect and misleading on the grounds they do not show the full picture or reflect total taxpayer resources dedicated to the CDC.
In addition, the aide said the enacted level of spending in 2014 for the CDC was actually $260 million above the president's own $6.64 billion request for the year. And over the last 10 years, said the aide, Congress has increased NIH funding by approximately $2.13 billion.
Democrats, for their part, respond that the president himself has had to make budget decisions that adhere to spending caps and sequestration.
Harkin has called on Congress to undo the sequestration caps—which will take another chunk out of the federal budget in October 2015—due to the seriousness of the Ebola outbreak. "With Ebola on our shores, we must lift the sequester, not double-down on it," he said.
Tom DeFrank contributed to this article