President Donald Trump’s proposal to send in private contractors to fight the virus has the potential to put “ludicrous” expensive systems at risk, according to a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
Trump’s plan for the government’s Ebola response calls for a private sector to oversee and control the “public health and safety” of the U.S. The president’s announcement Tuesday said that if it is approved by Congress, “the Department of Homeland Security will work with private entities to provide additional funding for the Ebola response.”
“If Congress does not approve this budget, the Department of Defense will work in coordination with other federal departments to ensure that the private sector, under its direction, can assist in this critical response,” the proposal said.
Trump has previously called for the use of private contractors for the fight against the virus.
He has also called for increased use of public health and law enforcement resources.
The White House’s Ebola plan has raised questions from lawmakers.
The proposal calls for the Department, which oversees the federal response to the virus, to use private contracting to pay for health care workers to be deployed to states, as well as for private security firms to be hired to provide extra security.
The plan also says the government should use “the power of the purse to obtain a public-private partnership agreement for the deployment of additional health care professionals to states.”
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said Trump’s budget proposal raises the question of how the government can handle Ebola without the private contractors it already employs.
“I don’t think that this is an appropriate solution to our public health challenge,” Rooney said in a statement.
“As we enter a period of unprecedented public health challenges, I believe it is important that we ensure that we are not compromising the safety and security of the American people.”
Rooney said he is concerned that the government is not providing enough training to private contractors who are needed to deal with Ebola.
“The government needs to be prepared to hire additional private security contractors to ensure our response is effective, and that our health care and law enforcers are equipped to deal effectively with Ebola,” he said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called Trump’s decision “an extraordinary misstep” that risks putting “the lives of American citizens at risk.”
The White, House Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to a request for comment.