Senate Dems pledge to keep fighting over Zika
© Lauren Schneiderman

Senate Democrats on Wednesday pledged to keep fighting over funding to combat the Zika virus as lawmakers head toward a Fourth of July recess with no deal in sight. 

"It's the last thing Republicans should be playing politics with. We all know that Zika poses a serious threat," Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowPoll shows Sen. Gary Peters with slim lead over GOP rival in Michigan Republican challenger to Gary Peters in Michigan raises over million USDA nixes release of multiple reports over researcher exodus MORE (D-Mich.) told reporters. "Read our lips. Read our lips. ... We are not relenting."  


She made the comments a day after Senate Democrats blocked a House-passed deal to provide $1.1 billion for anti-Zika efforts as part of a larger military spending bill. Democrats, concerned about how the current agreement is paid for, are demanding that Republicans negotiate a new deal. 

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats introduce SWAMP Act to ban meetings with foreign leaders at Trump properties Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group MORE (D-Hawaii) added on Wednesday that the legislation "started off as a clean funding bill... [but] has turned into yet another vehicle loaded up by the Republicans." 

Democrats, who say they were left out of the Zika negotiations, argue the Senate could pass a bipartisan Zika bill, pointing to an agreement from Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Mo.). 

But House Republicans have balked at the Senate's agreement, which would have provided $1.1 billion but didn't offset that cost. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump urges GOP to fight for him Senate Dems signal they'll support domestic spending package Trump's top picks for Homeland Security chief are ineligible for job: reports MORE (R-Ky.) repeatedly said Tuesday that no changes would be made to the current House-Senate agreement, noting that it's "not amendable." 

The standstill guarantees that lawmakers will recess for the holiday weekend without getting legislation to President Obama's desk. McConnell is expected to hold another vote on the Zika bill when the Senate returns from its break next week.  

Republicans slammed Democrats after the failed Senate vote, accusing them of playing politics over a pubic health emergency.  

"Democrats are working hard to spin this, but families don’t want excuses, they want action," McConnell said from the Senate floor Wednesday.  "Senate Democrats listened to the demands of a partisan special interest group and turned their backs on women's health and fighting Zika."

The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and sexual contact, has been shown to cause severe birth defects. Health officials expect the virus to spread in the U.S. this summer.