White House threatens veto of GOP’s Zika bill

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The White House on Thursday officially rejected a $1.1 billion Zika funding package from Republicans that would have forced the administration to pull most of the money from existing healthcare programs.

{mosads}“The president would veto it if it ever got to his desk,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters, though he said the bill “doesn’t look like it could even pass the United States Senate.”

The GOP bill passed the House along party lines early Thursday, and faces an uncertain fate as it heads to the Senate next week.

Senate Democrats say the bill is all but doomed in the upper chamber, where it will need support from members of their party to pass. Lawmakers and aides say that would be extremely unlikely after Democratic lawmakers were dropped from the previously bipartisan talks.

The Senate had agreed to $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus — a bill that earned support from Democrats because it created new funding, rather than looking to existing accounts.

The House bill takes about $500 million from an existing ObamaCare fund for state health exchanges and redirects it to the Zika effort. About $100 million of the administration’s Ebola fund would also be repurposed for Zika.

The GOP’s bill passed the House in a hurried vote around 3 a.m. Thursday, amid a dramatic Democratic gun control protest.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to temper Democratic criticism earlier Thursday, arguing the current deal “represents our only chance to put Zika control money to work right now.”

“The House did its part. Now the Senate needs to do its part,” he said.

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