- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2016

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday an emerging Senate deal to partially fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion request to fight the Zika virus is “completely inadequate.”

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said Congress should pony up the full request instead of accepting the $1.1 billion figure that is being discussed in the upper chamber.

“That’s not half a loaf, that’s half a shoe — you can’t get there from here,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

For months, the White House has pushed for the full $1.9 billion to gird against the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes birth defects. It says that is what’s needed to develop a better diagnostic test and vaccine for the disease, while boosting mosquito control efforts in the states.

It also wants to backfill nearly $600 million it shifted from other accounts to prepare for Zika right now, including $510 million from the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

An emerging Senate compromise by Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, would allow senators to vote on emergency Zika funding as an amendment to one of the fiscal 2017 spending bills.

But Mrs. Pelosi said the $1.1 billion figure just “doesn’t do the job, and the job needs to be done.”

Florida’s senators agreed, releasing a bipartisan, $1.9 billion plan Thursday to fully fund Mr. Obama’s request as a competing amendment to the compromise being drafted by their colleagues.

“The administration has been clear from the start: It’s going to take $1.9 billion to stop the spread of this virus, not $1.1 [billion],” said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who joined forces with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

House Democrats, who held a hearing Thursday to highlight their push, say they’re willing to tack any Zika money onto the record debt, rather than cut other programs to pay for it.

House conservatives, though, say the package will hit a wall in their chamber if the money is not offset.



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