Senate Republicans take initial action on Zika Virus emergency funding
Apr 21, 2016 06:54 AM EDT
Top Republican lawmakers are reportedly planning to draft a bill to respond to President Barack Obama's request to fund anti-Zika virus efforts.
According to a Republican source, the emergency measure being drafted shells out $1 billion to respond to the Zika virus outbreak. Chicago Tribune reported that the proposal could be attached to another appropriations bill as soon as Thursday, The Chicago Tribune wrote.
Although the measure is not yet final and is still under negotiation, democrats are expected to support the proposal. Top Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski, a democrat, said that the Zika issue will be tabled for a panel vote on Thursday.
The Washington Post reported that the Republican-ruled Congress has been under pressure to act on Obama's request to provide $1.9 billion in funds to combat the spread of the Zika virus and develop a vaccine.
Although $600 million of the previously-approved funds has been granted for the Zika virus program, the White House and Democrats are pressing the Republicans for more funding. They are requesting that the money for the anti-Zika virus campaign be incorporated in the fiscal budget as an "emergency supplemental" measure.
"While we are reassured that there appears to be initial steps to rectifying Congress's failure to act to date, any proposal that does not provide needed assistance in this fiscal year and does not protect or replenish the funding critical to our ongoing Ebola response will be insufficient to the risks facing the country," White House speaker Peter Boogard told reporters Wednesday.
Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers said he's still waiting for specific details as to how the money will be used, and the request has been stalled in the White House. Republican Rep. Tom Cole, head of the Appropriations Committee's health panel, said he's dissatisfied with the White House's cooperation, The Hill reported.
Republican representative Marco Rubio, however, is optimistic that the Senate will act on the matter before April ends, particularly before summer hits during which the Zika virus problem is expected to boom.