Obama Administration Officials Send Letter Urging Congress To Approve Zika Funding

Associated Press: Inaction on Zika funding likely to delay vaccine testing
“The Obama administration on Tuesday cautioned top lawmakers that continued gridlock over legislation to combat the Zika virus could delay research and development of a vaccine to protect against Zika and tests to detect it. The warning came in a letter from White House budget chief Shaun Donovan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell…” (Taylor/Jalonick, 7/12).

CQ News: White House in Last-Minute Zika Plea Backs Off Dollar Figure
“…Notably, the letter contains no reference to a specific dollar figure or offsets, main points of contention on the Zika aid package. It also does not mention the ‘poison pill’ provisions that Democrats have cited repeatedly as their reason for opposing a Republican-written agreement on Zika aid that’s stalled in the Senate…” (Bennett, 7/13).

The Hill: GOP chairman blasts White House over Zika spending
“…House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Obama administration has spent just $90 million of the $590 million it redirected from its Ebola virus fund in April to launch efforts against Zika. That would mean the administration has spent less than one-fifth of its available money, even as Democrats continue to hammer the GOP and block a $1.1 billion Zika funding plan…” (Ferris, 7/13).

Huffington Post: Mosquito Mascot Trolls Senate Republicans At Zika Hearing
“…The human-sized mosquito, a reproductive rights advocate with NARAL Pro-Choice America, made an appearance to denounce Republicans’ lack of action on the Zika epidemic. Members of the House and Senate are struggling to agree on a plan to address the virus, and House Republicans have proposed a solution that could make it harder for women in Zika-affected countries to access birth control and family planning services…” (Bassett, 7/13).

Kaiser Health News: NIH’s Fauci On Combating Zika: ‘You Have To Have The Resources To Act Quickly’
“…At the center is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He oversees federal Zika vaccine research and development activities and has been the leading government spokesman on the overall anti-Zika effort. It’s also been his job to find resources within NIH to support vaccine development while fighting for Congress to provide the additional funding. If it doesn’t happen soon, he warns, the progress made so far will stall. … Fauci recently spoke with Kaiser Health News’ Carmen Heredia Rodriguez about the safety considerations that go into developing a vaccine and the ongoing funding fight…” (Rodriguez, 7/12).

MSNBC: Zika Virus Funding Battle in Congress ‘Simply Inexcusable’
“The failure of Congress to approve any money to help fight Zika is ‘simply inexcusable’ and a ‘dereliction of duty,’ senators said during a hearing Wednesday, with just two days left before a long break means no money before autumn. As senators traded accusations at the hearing, Texas reported a baby was born in Houston’s Harris County with microcephaly, the disturbing birth defect that’s become the hallmark of Zika virus infection…” (Fox, 7/13).

Roll Call: Zika Talks Stalemated Despite Last-Minute White House Plea
“…Democrats are urging Republicans to send a $1.1 billion aid package to President Barack Obama’s desk that excludes budgetary offsets or language on contraception curbs and environmental permitting for mosquito spraying. Those and other provisions are included in an anti-Zika conference package to which Democrats and the administration object. That measure passed the House, but remains stalled in the Senate. It is possible that Senate Republican leaders on Thursday will try another procedural vote to advance the legislation that is expected to fail…” (Bennett, 7/13).

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