US Senate Reaches Compromise on Emergency Zika Funding

Image: Shuttershock
Image: Shuttershock

In February, the White House formally asked Congress for $1.8 billion dollars to help combat the Zika virus this summer. Now, the Senate has worked out a bipartisan deal will allocate $1.1 billion in emergency funding.

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The $1.1 billion is less than the White House had asked for, money that will go towards mosquito control efforts to help suppress the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is primarily responsible for spreading the illness. The White House has already reallocated nearly $600 million to help with efforts, pulled from coffers used to help fight Ebola, not nearly enough for the impending mosquito season.

While the bill has support in the US Senate, it must also pass the US House of Representatives, where House Republicans have begun crafting their own version of the bill, which will provide under a billion dollars. Only a single House Republican, Florida Representative Vern Buchanan, supports the White House request, noting that his state will be particularly hard hit by the virus this summer:

“Zika’s shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States,” Buchanan said. “The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly.”

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The compromise will be attached to an upcoming spending bill that is scheduled for a vote next week.

[Vanity Fair, NBC News, Wall Street Journal]

Andrew Liptak is the former Weekend editor of io9/Gizmodo. He is the co-editor of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction and hails from Vermont.

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DISCUSSION

There’s probably about 80 or so snarky comments I could make here, but I’ll resist the strong urge. Elections matter! If you’re a US citizen and you don’t like it when politicians from a particular party are unwilling to fund public health precautions, do what you can to help that particular party do very poorly in elections.