Senate

Rubio calls for lawmakers to return to DC, pass Zika funding

Greg Nash

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is calling for lawmakers stop their seven-week summer recess to return to Washington and pass legislation to fight the Zika virus. 

“My message today is at this point the time for this political gamesmanship has to end. It’s over,” Rubio said. “I reiterate my call for Congress to act quickly, whether it’s in pro forma, whether it’s returning to Washington and voting on this.”
 
{mosads}Rubio’s comments — during a press conference in Doral, Fla. — come a day after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging him to pass the Senate’s $1.1 billion deal during a “pro forma” session.
 
Lawmakers left Washington last month and won’t return from their seven-week “August recess” until early September. 
 
Supporters of the Senate agreement, spearheaded by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), face an unlikely battle to get the legislation through the Senate during the summer recess. They would need to get approval of every senator to take up and pass it in a pro forma session, the short, perfunctory gavelings that are held when lawmakers are away in their districts. 
 
House Republicans have balked at the Senate’s original bill because the Zika money isn’t paid for. 
 
Instead, the Senate is expected to take a third vote on a House-passed bill that would provide $1.1 billion but has drawn Democratic opposition because of a provision blocking funding for Planned Parenthood. 
 
Rubio — a former presidential hopeful who supported both proposals — blasted his colleagues over the stalemate Wednesday, saying they’ve turned the disease into a “political volleyball.” 
 
“I find it inexcusable, as I have said repeatedly, that Congress waited for months and did absolutely nothing,” he added. “I think both parties are to blame for this.”
 
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, blamed Democrats for the hold-up. 
 
“We would love for them to end that filibuster and pass the bill, but it doesn’t sound like they’re prepared to do that,” Stewart said. 
 
“Though I wonder if Sen. Nelson’s new suggestion of a consent request during a pro forma means that he would give his consent to end the filibuster and pass the House-passed bill by consent and send it to the President.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an emergency response team to Miami this week, where more than a dozen people are believed to have acquired the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects, directly from mosquitoes.  

Tags Bill Nelson Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell Patty Murray Roy Blunt
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