-- Nearly five months since President Obama requested $1.9 billion from Congress to fight the Zika virus, lawmakers left Washington without passing much-needed funding to stop the spread of the disease and fund vaccine research.
As members prepared to leave town for seven weeks and health official warn of the growing Zika threat, Senate Democrats again blocked a $1.1 billion funding measure crafted by House and Senate Republicans.
While Democrats criticized “poison-pill” measures in the proposal that would block Planned Parenthood funding, Republicans said it was the best they could expect.
“We passed a perfectly responsible piece of legislation -- the funding level that everyone agreed to, the contents of the bill that people think is wise,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told ABC News today. “The Democrats for some reason or another decided to play politics with it.”
Democrats argue that the House-passed bill was hardly the compromise they expected to emerge from negotiations.
“This is going to be a long, hot summer,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said at a news conference Thursday.
Republicans have touted progress on mental health reform and opioid abuse legislation in response to Democrats’ attacks.
Because of congressional inaction, the administration will likely have to reallocate even more funding to help combat Zika – which health officials say leaves other disease-fighting efforts underfunded.
In September, Congress will also have to consider a stopgap bill to prevent a government shutdown, as lawmakers are unlikely to approve all twelve spending bills by the end of the fiscal year at the end of September.