House Approves Controversial Zika Bill
But it's way less than Senate funding and White House request
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2016 7:11 AM CDT
File photo of an Aedes aegypti mosquito.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

(Newser) – Congress can't even come close to agreeing on how much money to allocate to the Zika virus. The House on Wednesday night passed a bill that would provide $622 million in funding, but that's way below a $1.1 billion measure in the Senate and even further below the $1.9 billion requested by President Obama, reports Reuters. The White House has dismissed the House bill as a "dumb approach" and threatened a veto, reports the Hill. But NBC News reports that even getting a bill to the president's desk is a "long way off" given the huge differences between the House and Senate measures. An example of the competing views:

  • “This is wholly adequate, it’s more than adequate in terms of money,” says the GOP's Hal Rogers, chief of the House Appropriations panel.
  • “You will own it if this gets out of hand and we don't have the appropriate resources deployed now,” says House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “It should have been 30 days ago, 60 days ago, 90 days ago.”

One of the more controversial elements in play is that House Republicans want to pull unspent money from the Ebola crisis, reports USA Today. "When a tornado strikes, we don't steal money from the unfinished relief efforts for the last hurricane," complains Democrat Nita Lowey. Another factor is the timeline: The House package covers spending only through September, while the Senate's runs through September 2017, and Republicans say they plan to add more money to Zika in the next fiscal year. "By the end of this, if you add it all up, we’ll either be at or above the Senate’s total," says the GOP's Tom Cole. "It’ll be very comparable.”
 

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