Health Care

GOP chairman: Senate to vote on Zika funding in ‘near future’

Getty Images

The Senate Appropriations Committee is planning to bring a major funding package for fighting the Zika virus to the floor of the Senate “in the near future,” its chairman said Thursday.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) confirmed for the first time Thursday that committee members from both parties have been quietly working on an emergency funding bill to meet at least some of President Obama’s request on the Zika virus.

{mosads}The move would break a months-long gridlock between the White House and GOP leaders, who have accused federal officials of failing to provide a detailed breakdown of their funding needs.

In the committee markup on Thursday, Cochran did not say how much money would be included in the supplemental Zika funding bill.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who has worked closely with Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the funding package, said there “has never been a debate” on whether the Senate would provide more money — just how much.  

“I believe we’re closing in on a number that’s the right number,” Blunt said Thursday.

Cochran said it would be likely attached to a vote on the Senate floor in the coming days, which could mean the annual appropriations bills for commerce, justice, science, or military construction and veterans’ affairs. Both are expected to reach the Senate floor this month.

Cochran, whose state already has a handful of Zika cases, acknowledged the holdup from the administration but made clear that the committee was committed to a public health response. The mosquito-borne virus is known to cause birth defects in infants, and the virus is expected to begin spreading in the U.S. in early June.

“While it has been difficult to obtain the detailed info necessary to thoroughly evaluate the administration’s request, we recognize that there is an urgency associated with the threat,” Cochran said, adding, “It’s my expectation that this proposal will be offered to an appropriations proposal on the Senate floor in the near future.”

Murray and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, did not say precisely when they hoped the bill would come up for a floor vote, but insisted it needed to move quickly.

“We are in a race against the clock; we are in a race against the mosquitoes; and right now, I would say mosquitoes are winning,” Mikulski said.

Tags Barbara Mikulski Lindsey Graham Patrick Leahy Patty Murray Roy Blunt Thad Cochran

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video