Amid tumult on the floor, House passes $1.1 billion in Zika funds

Shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday, the House passed an appropriations bill including $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funds in the wake of a sit-in on the House floor led by Democrats that began around noon on Wednesday. The protest from the House Democrats was incited by the legislative failure to pass gun control measures, according to The New York Times.

The funding is short of President Barack Obama's initial request for nearly $2 billion in funds to combat the spread of the virus. According the Times, $750 million of the funds passed by the House are designated to be allocated from other federal programs. The measure has garnered harsh criticism from Democrats, citing provisions in the bill that would limit government spending on Planned Parenthood as particularly irksome. The measure is likely to meet stiff opposition in the Senate, where the GOP does not have the votes needed to overcome procedural obstacles.

Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said in a statement, "This plan from Congressional Republicans is four months late and nearly a billion dollars short...and steals funding from other health priorities. The fact that the Republican plan limits needed birth control services for women in the United States and Puerto Rico as we seek to stop the spread of a sexually transmitted disease is a clear indication they don't take seriously the threat from the Zika virus or their responsibility to protect Americans."

The battle over Zika funds has been a source of serious political contention in recent months. The conflict is likely to persist when Congress returns from its Fourth of July recess.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Scientists identify human proteins Zika virus requires to replicate  
5 athletes opting to skip Olympics due to Zika  
10 pregnant women in Texas test positive for Zika 

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