There is still opposition from Senior House Republicans who want to propose a lesser $622 million to fight the potential outbreak.
It’s been over three months since President Obama requested $1.8 billion in emergency funds to combat a likely Zika outbreak and now the Senate has agreed to start the ball rolling with a compromise $1.1 billion measure in a passed in a 68-29 procedural vote.
However, Senior House Republicans are working on an alternative proposal that only offers a fraction of the funding Obama asked for – $622 million, for which Obama says he will veto if the proposal goes ahead.
Sen. Patty Murray, who supported the proposal of $1.8 billion, says that the alternative proposal is far too little and wouldn’t cover all aspects of help with fighting the virus.
“House Republicans have released a proposal that would provide a very meager 622 million dollars — less than a third of what is needed for this emergency without any funding for preventive health care or outreach to those at risk to Zika,” she said.
The race is on as the threat of the Zika virus is set to heighten as the warm summer months bring infected mosquitoes and could cause an epidemic in the U.S. The emergency funding will go towards controlling mosquitoes, researching the disease and speed development of a vaccine.
“The administration’s full request of $1.9 billion is needed to reduce the risk of the Zika virus, particularly in pregnant women, by better controlling the mosquitoes that spread Zika; develop new tools, including vaccines and better diagnostics to protect the Nation from the Zika virus; and conduct crucial research projects needed to better understand the impacts of the Zika virus on infants and children,” the White House said in a statement.
The debate continues with House Republicans arguing that the Obama administration hasn’t fully explained where the money would be allocated and so proposing an initial amount will cover any immediate efforts with a revisit after the funding period has ended.
The number of travel-related Zika cases reported in the U.S. is now 1,200 with the first Zika-related microcephaly case in Puerto Rica this month.