Senate to vote on Zika funding

Senate to vote on Zika funding

The Senate will vote next week on a long-awaited funding package to bolster the national response to the Zika virus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Ky.) filed cloture Thursday on three Zika-related amendments to an appropriations bill that will come up for a vote next week.

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The funding will be tacked onto a package that combines the transportation and military construction appropriations bills.

Senators will be given three options for the funding, including the full $1.9 billion requested from President Obama. The other two options involve $1.1 billion in funding. One measure from Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) would fully offset that spending, while the other would not, according to a GOP aide.

That third option is the result of weeks of negotiations between Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRoy Blunt has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between Australia and America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Mo.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBuilding strong public health capacity across the US Texas abortion law creates 2022 headache for GOP Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill MORE (D-Wash.), who announced Thursday they had struck a deal on the funding. 

The scheduled votes mark a major step in Congress’s months-long struggle with Obama’s emergency funding request to address the Zika virus outbreak. Hundreds of cases of the disease have been reported in Puerto Rico, with several dozen in the continental U.S. as well. 

The deal comes about two weeks after Murray accused her Senate GOP counterparts of walking away from talks.

Murray said she heard radio silence from Senate Republicans about Zika funding after some fiscal hawks in the House voiced concerns about the new funding. 

In the House, GOP leaders have also said they are working on a funding package. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said as recently as Wednesday that he is still waiting on answers from the Obama administration about how the funding will specifically be used.
 
Leading health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have routinely appeared before lawmakers to make their pitch for the Zika funding over the last two months.
 
Earlier on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a hearing on Zika funding featuring a Powerpoint presentation from National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci about where that funding would go.