After returning from a seven-week recess, the Senate picked up where it left off by once again refusing to pass a Zika funding bill. The main stumbling block is a Republican effort to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving money to combat the mosquito-borne disease, according to a report in The New York Times.
The vote was 52 to 46, with Republicans needing 60 votes to advance the bill.
Lawmakers said they expected to make another attempt at crafting a Zika bill before the end of the month as part of a “must pass” stopgap spending measure, which would be necessary if Congress fails to pass its annual spending bills––which is likely.
Last week, Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced that his agency had used almost all of the $222 million it was allotted to fight the Zika virus. He warned that some plans, such as a mosquito-control program in Puerto Rico, would have to be axed if more money doesn’t arrive soon.
As of late August, there were more than 16,800 cases of Zika virus infection in the United States, including Puerto Rico, which has been hit the hardest. Health experts were tracking more than 1,500 pregnant women who had been infected with the virus, and at least 17 babies have been born with severe birth defects.
Source: The New York Times; September 6, 2016.