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Dems urge Senate to back Obama Zika request

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Democrats are pressing Senate appropriators to include President Obama’s push for funding to combat the Zika virus in annual spending bills. 

Twenty-four senators sent a letter Friday saying that Congress should support the administration’s $1.9 billion request without dipping into the government funds set aside to tackle Ebola. 
 
{mosads}”Dramatically reducing funding for the Ebola account now … would increase health risks worldwide while also sending a troubling message about the U.S. commitment to ending the current epidemic and preparing for future outbreaks,” they wrote to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the top members of Appropriations subcommittees that will make initial funding decisions.
 
While the administration has doubled down on its request for emergency funding to bolster its ability to combat the spread of the Zika virus, House Republicans argue that the White House should first use money currently allocated for tackling Ebola. 
 
While concerns about an outbreak of Ebola in the United States caused panic in 2014, it’s largely disappeared from the public’s radar as reports of new cases have largely ended in West Africa. 
 
Democrats, however, have panned the GOP strategy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters that it “would be very wrong.” Meanwhile, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, called it “short-sighted.” 
 
The Senate Democrats added in their letter Friday that Congress must remain “vigilant” on Ebola, including creating a “stockpile” of vaccines that would be readily available for potential outbreaks. 
 
Friday’s letter was spearheaded by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Ed Markey (Mass.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) also signed the letter.
Tags Al Franken Barbara Boxer Bernie Sanders Bill Nelson Bob Casey Chris Coons Chris Murphy Debbie Stabenow Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Jack Reed Jeanne Shaheen Lindsey Graham Mazie Hirono Michael Bennet Patrick Leahy Patty Murray Ron Wyden Roy Blunt Sheldon Whitehouse Sherrod Brown

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