Pelosi: Dems will back smaller Zika bill
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Democrats are ready to compromise on funding levels to address the Zika virus, provided Republicans drop restrictions on Planned Parenthood using the money.

Pelosi said Democrats will accept the Senate's $1.1 billion compromise — in lieu of the $1.9 billion requested by President Obama and demanded by Pelosi earlier in the year — but only if health agencies are underwritten for a full 12 months.


"It has to happen in three weeks, and … it has to be for a year," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

The longer window is needed, she said, because biomedical and vaccine research "requires some predictability and assurance that the resources will be there."

"Let's get this done now," she said. "But when we get it done now, it [can't be] a three-month [bill] to December."

The Zika debate has been ensnared in abortion politics, as conservative Republicans have insisted that any bill to fund efforts against the Zika virus must bar contraceptive funding to Planned Parenthood clinics. The GOP has long attacked Planned Parenthood because some facilities provide abortion services.

Pelosi and the Democrats counter that abortion has nothing to do with expanding access to contraception for the sake of fighting a disease that can be transmitted sexually.

"I grant them their position on abortion and the rest of that. But contraception? … Really?" Pelosi said. "We're talking about mosquitoes, but do we need to talk about the birds and the bees at the same time?"

The comments came a day after Senate Democrats blocked a $1.1 billion Zika bill that included the Planned Parenthood restrictions.

The House had passed a similar bill in June, and GOP leaders have been quick to accuse Senate Democrats of causing the impasse.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only MORE (R-Wis.) vowed to act on the issue this month, before Congress adjourns for the elections, but he rejected any notion that Republicans are to blame for the months-long stalemate.

"Give me a break," Ryan told reporters in the Capitol Wednesday. "We'll figure out how to get this done, but we have done our job."

It's unclear how the Republicans plan to proceed.

Several vulnerable Florida Republicans, including Reps. Carlos Curbelo and David Jolly, are pushing hard on their leadership to move quickly. Many are predicting that a stand-alone measure may be too difficult to pass, and the bill will ultimately be attached to the stopgap government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, that Congress is expected to pass before month's end.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, predicted Tuesday that a clean $1.1 billion Zika bill would pass easily on the House floor with the support of most Democrats.

But some other Democratic leaders are being more elusive.

"I'm not interested in doing emergency healthcare treatment on the cheap," Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraMcDonald's teams up with HHS on pro-vaccination campaign Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections MORE (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday. "At the same time, there are women who need to know that we're doing all we can to make sure if they're pregnant, that they won't become infected."