McConnell pressures Dems to back Zika deal

Haiyun Jiang

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pressing Senate Democrats to back a House-passed deal on Zika funding ahead of a vote this week. 

“The House agreed to the funding level that Democrats supported unanimously,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “The agreement before us is a compromise with input from both parties, and it represents the last chance we will have to address Zika for weeks.” 
 
{mosads}Reading quotes from the Senate’s top four Democrats, McConnell added that his colleagues shouldn’t “reverse course.” 
 
The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote Tuesday on a broad veterans and military spending bill that includes $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus. McConnell will need to get at least six Democrats to back the legislation to overcome the hurdle. 
 
But Democrats have balked at the House-Senate deal, which passed the House late last week. Their opposition makes it increasingly likely lawmakers will have to punt Zika funding until after the Fourth of July recess. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the legislation is full of “poison pills.” 
 
“It’s like we’re being dared to oppose this legislation. We have no choice,” he said. “[Republicans] have to do anything they can to whack Planned Parenthood, and that’s what they do in this conference report.”
 
The Senate previously passed $1.1 billion for Zika funding, but Democrats have raised concerns about how the House-Senate agreement is paid for. 
 
In addition to taking money currently earmarked to fight the Ebola virus, the GOP bill would likely restart a fight over Planned Parenthood because it includes language that prevents funding from going to it and other family planning groups.
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