Senate Democrats seek new deal on Zika funding fight
The Senate is considering a $1.1 billion measure passed by the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives but President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has vowed to veto that plan, which falls short of his $1.9 billion request.
In a letter to Senate Majority Letter Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and others urged Republicans to come back to the table to craft a more bipartisan deal to fund steps to head off the mosquito-borne virus – a fight seen critical by both sides as summer sets in across the United States.
“We urge you to abandon these politically motivated, unnecessary poison pills and work as quickly as possible to send a sufficient, bipartisan Zika response to the president for signature as soon as possible to protect women and children from the threat of the Zika virus,” the letter, which also was addressed to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, said.
Among other things, Democrats were unhappy that the proposal would not allow funding to go to private entities such as the women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood.
The Senate was expected to cast a procedural vote on the Republican plan on Tuesday but Senate Democratic aides have warned the bill may not clear that hurdle given their concerns.
That would likely delay any congressional action to combat Zika until at least after next week’s July 4th national holiday.
McConnell has warned Democrats against opposing the Republican plan, saying the Republican-run Senate might not address Zika again for weeks.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott)
Source: Reuters Health