Week ahead: Pressure builds on Zika funding

Republicans are facing growing pressure from the White House and congressional Democrats to get a bill funding the United States's Zika virus relief efforts to President Obama's desk.

Obama said Friday that Congress should not leave for recess without getting him a bill.

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"So the bottom line is, Congress needs to get me a bill," Obama said. "It needs to get me a bill that has sufficient funds to do the job. They should not be going off on recess before this is done. And certainly this has to get done over the course of the next several weeks in order for us to be able to provide confidence to the American people that we're handling this piece of business."

The House and Senate will be trying to bridge the gap between their funding proposals. The Senate has a bipartisan $1.1 billion deal, while the House has a Republican bill for $622 million. The White House has threatened to veto the House bill but has said it is more open to the Senate bill.

Meanwhile, senators will also try to build momentum for mental health reform.

Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks Cruz warns GOP support for expanded background checks could help elect Warren president MORE (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), co-authors of a mental health bill that passed the health committee in March, will host a mental health summit on Thursday featuring panels of experts.

Murphy and Cassidy are trying to maintain the energy around their bill. It has been slowed by concerns about setting off a debate over gun control in an election year, given a bill related to guns from Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure Cruz: Texas will be 'hotly contested' in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) that could be combined with the mental health measure.

The House is also trying to revive its version of mental health reform, a long-stalled measure from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). Republicans are circulating a draft with revisions to it as they seek to jump-start the measure.

On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee will mark up a bipartisan hospital bill making various tweaks to Medicare payments. For example, the bill changes a provision of last year's budget deal that lowered payments for hospital outpatient departments to bring them more in line with doctors' office payments. The new bill will provide an exception for hospital outpatient departments that were already in the middle of construction.

Also Tuesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will look into improper payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

 

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