House GOP unveils $622 million Zika bill

House GOP unveils $622 million Zika bill

House Republicans on Monday introduced a bill to provide $622 million in additional funding to fight the Zika virus this year. 

ADVERTISEMENT
The measure is fully paid for, in part by shifting over unspent money that was intended to fight Ebola, the House Appropriations Committee said. 

The House is likely to vote on the bill, which would provide a fraction of the $1.9 billion requested by the White House, this week. 

Republicans had previously stated that funding could wait until next year, but Democrats have been increasing pressure on the GOP to act. 

Still, the path forward for funding to be signed into law is far from clear. 

While both House and Senate Republicans are now moving forward with funding, they are working with significantly different amounts. The Senate is expected to vote this week on a $1.1 billion bill. 

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), said Democrats would oppose the House GOP bill. 
 
He said that the bill's funding "is less than one-third of the amount of the President’s emergency request, and further depletes the ability of the U.S. to respond to the ongoing global threat of Ebola."
 
"The growing threat of Zika demands passage of the President’s full $1.9 billion supplemental now, not a woefully inadequate proposal tied to an appropriations bill that is six months away from the President’s desk," he added.

House Republicans have said they did not act before because they were still waiting for answers from the administration on the details of where the funding would go. 

“Given the severity of the Zika crisis and the global health threat, we cannot afford to wait on the Administration any longer,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “We have made our own funding determinations, using what information is available and through discussions with federal agencies, to craft a proposal to fight the spread of this damaging disease.”

He added that the legislation funds Zika efforts “in a responsible way, using existing resources – including excess funding left over from the Ebola outbreak – to pay for it.”

Rogers pointed to tighter controls and oversight requirements on the money than had been in the White House’s request. 

The funds include $170 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for items such as mosquito control, and $230 million for the National Institutes of Health for vaccine development. 

 
"Senate Republicans are giving half of what they need to fight this ravaging virus. This is beyond reckless," Reid said on the Senate floor Monday. "Republicans are trying to haggle as if this is some sort of bidding war." 
 
Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash McConnell: Russians are not our friends Russians' indictment casts shadow ahead of Trump-Putin summit MORE (R-Texas), pointed out Murray's involvement in the deal, writing on Twitter,  "On the Senate floor, Leader Reid calls Sen. Murray's Zika proposal 'beyond reckless.'" 
  
Democrats warn that the measures should be voted on as stand-alone bills, not attached to appropriations bills that could take months to get to the president's desk. 

This post was updated at 9:11 p.m