House Zika bill blocked by Senate Democrats

On Tuesday, Democratic senators blocked a Zika funding bill passed by the House on June 23 at the conclusion of a sit-in led by the Democrats over gun control issues. The bill would have provided $1.1 billion in funds to combat the virus, according to The New York Times. Democrats argue that the bill would have robbed other programs of critical funding.

In February, President Barack Obama asked for nearly $2 billion to be allocated for the Zika fight. In May, the Senate compromised with legislation designating $1.1 billion to the cause free of fiscal offsets, and then the House countered with a proposal for $622.1 million in funds to be offset by funding from other programs. The House's most recent proposal of $1.1 billion would have reportedly drawn $750 million from already existing initiatives.

Democrats state that the most recent bill from the House was sabotaged by provisions that would cut funding for programs like Planned Parenthood.

According to the Times, Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said, "If there was ever a bill obviously designed to fail, it was this one. Loading up the bill with poison pills was the only way Republican leadership could pass a bill without Democratic support, and it is a cynical strategy."

Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, said, "The Zika virus poses a serious public health threat, and it would be reprehensible for Senate Democrats to block funding that is needed to help keep Americans safe, particularly pregnant mothers and their babies."

The game of political hot potato is likely to shift hands once again after the House returns from their Fourth of July recess.

According to the CDC, as of June 16, there have been four infants born in the U.S. with Zika-related birth defects and four more pregnancies either lost or terminated due to the viruses' impact on the fetus.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
3 things to know about Zika research in primate labs  
CDC official: Zika is the 'most difficult' emergency response ever  
Ohio reports state's first sexually transmitted Zika infection 

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