Submitted by: Marcus Robinson Excerpts from Byron Tau Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Pool was brought into a room on the third floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at 1:23 pm. About 30 people were in attendance at the event, mostly from NGOs, nonprofits, faith-based groups, as well as government officials. VP Biden, Ebola czar Ron Klain, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett were at the head of the table. The pooled press portion of the event lasted about 30 minutes.
Pool spotted representatives from World of Hope, ONE, Bread for the World, the International Medical Corps, World Vision, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Save the Children and the law firm Latham & Watkins. Those organization names were pulled from the placards placed in front of the meeting attendees.
Klain spoke first, for about 2 minutes. Klain said that some progress had been made in slowing the epidemic but that a lot of work needed to be done. “We are not at the beginning of the end or even the end of the beginning, but we are at the throes of this effort in West Africa with interventions that can work.” Klain called the release of the last Ebola patient in the United States a “milestone.”
He warned: “We will see other cases of Ebloa in the United States, as the president has said, occasionally and sporadically.” “But it’s a milestone because it shows that our health care system can successfully identify isolate and treat an Ebola patient and return him home and healthy.”
Jarrett spoke for only about a minute, citing laryngitis. She thanked the NGOs and others for their work. Biden spoke next for a little over 25 minutes. He called for activists to put the pressure on Capitol Hill to pass the administration’s Ebola funding requests. Some highlights:
— “You are the most remarkable people. … Thank you, I mean thank you.” –“The lack of investment in public health worldwide is a global emergency.” –“I look as every crisis as an opportunity [inaudible] in my personal life and my public life. We have an opportunity in dealing with this godawful crisis that’s taking thousands of lives to put ourselves in a better position — and the world in a better position — in the future. Not just in regard to Ebola but across the board. And it’s going to help us, I hope if we learn the right lessons, contain future crises.” –“I’ll be very blunt. The emergency funding request that we have on the Hill now; I’m going to be completely honest. We need you and your constituents to help carry the word. Because, your views — each individual organization that’s represented here — carries a lot more weight in this environment, this political environment we find ourselves in, than anything I can say, the president can say, Speaker Boehner can say. It is the currency that is most negotiable. I’m being very blunt with you in addition to thanking you. The more you continue your advocacy for the need for this emergency funding, the better we all will be.” –“It’s always our primary objective to protect the American people,” Biden said.–Biden said the NGOs and activists were the administration’s “secret weapon” because they were in action against the disease in Africa. –Biden said that his wife happened to be in Sierra Leone just a few days before the epidemic broke out. Biden said that Obama immediately recognized the threat that Ebola poses to the world. –Biden joked that Klain “does not know how to say no” and that’s why he took the job as Ebola czar. –Biden said that the United States needs a hospital that’s able to respond to Ebola in “every state of the Union.” Why take the chance, he asked, noting that the administration was not expecting Ebola cases in every single state in the union. –At length, Biden praised the work of the NGOs and other public health organizations. He singled out several activists and organizations for their work. He talked about the role of the NGOs in understanding the local cultures and working on the ground. –“While others call for travel bans, you say ‘where can I go.’ While others call for cutting off funding, you’re pushing back with real morality clarity on why that’s a bad idea. While others have been shunned or stigmatized those with Ebola or those that provide that treatment, you’ve reached out to them.” –“I respectfully suggest that the faiths and organizations represented at this table speak to our greatest strengths as a nation.” –Biden spoke briefly about religion and its role in caring for others, quoting both the prophet Muhammad and Jesus. “Islam, Christianity, Judaism springs from the same well.” –He ended by repeating his call for NGOs, faith groups and others to work Capitol Hill to secure any funding.
Pool was ushered out at 1:53 pm. Sorry for the delay, no transcript is likely from the White House. The vice president’s office provided this information about the event to your pooler: Today, Vice President Biden, Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett are meeting with leaders of faith, humanitarian, and non-governmental organizations that are responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and educating their communities about Ebola-related issues here at home. During the meeting, they will thank meeting participants for their hard work and discuss how the United States has mounted an across-the-board board response to contain and eliminate the epidemic at its source, while taking prudent measures to protect the American people. They will also discuss the Administration’s request for $6.18 billion in emergency funding from Congress to continue to prevent, detect and respond to the Ebola epidemic.