Healthcare

First GOP rep backs Obama’s Zika funding request

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Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) on Monday became the first House Republican to publicly back President Obama’s nearly $2 billion emergency funding request for combatting the Zika virus.

Buchanan, whose home state is at risk of an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus as early as next month, said he is hoping to end months of gridlock between the White House and GOP leadership, who have locked horns on the funding request.

“Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat,” Buchanan wrote in a statement.

{mosads}The congressman’s support for the full funding request comes three days after the first Zika-related fatality was reported in the U.S. More than 600 Americans have already tested positive for Zika virus, mostly in Puerto Rico.   

Buchanan is the second Florida Republican, after Sen. Marco Rubio, to call on leadership to approve the full funding amount. Another House Republican, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, introduced a bill last week to immediately move all leftover funding from the U.S. Ebola virus response into the Zika response — a step that the Obama administration has already partially taken.

Buchanan was also one of the first GOP lawmakers to call for emergency funding for the Zika virus, urging the administration to use leftover money from its Ebola response. The Obama administration took that step last month but says it urgently needs more funds.

Prominent GOP senators said last week they were nearing a deal on a funding package about $1.1 billion, but talks have since frozen. Both the House and Senate left for a week-long recess on Friday without appropriating the funds.

“The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly,” Buchanan wrote in a statement.

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