In a late-night vote taking place during a Democratic sit-in urging action on gun control, the House of Representatives voted to approve a contentious $1.1 billion bill to help stop the spread of Zika that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) described as “a responsible compromise.”
The bill, which passed 239-171, only contains about $400 million of new spending, the rest of which is redirected from other federal programs. It also contains a provision that blocks funds from going to Planned Parenthood birth control services for women at risk of infection; another provision would lower restrictions on pesticide requirements, which we’ve pretty firmly established has nothing to do with the Zika Virus.
The plan is nearly a billion dollars short of what President Obama requested several months back, and while he hasn’t directly threatened a veto, White House spokesman Josh Earnest released a sharp statement:
“This plan from Congressional Republicans is four months late and nearly a billion dollars short of what our public health experts have said is necessary to do everything possible to fight the Zika virus and steals funding from other health priorities.
The fact that the Republican plan limits needed birth control services for women in the United States and Puerto Rico as we seek to stop the spread of a sexually transmitted disease is a clear indication they don’t take seriously the threat from the Zika virus or their responsibility to protect Americans.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has released a similarly strong rebuke, stating that “A narrowly partisan proposal that cuts off women’s access to birth control, shortchanges veterans and rescinds Obamacare funds to cover the cost is not a serious response to the threat from the Zika virus.”
The New York Times reports that a resolution is likely to be delayed until after Congress returns from its Fourth of July recess, which makes total sense.
Image via Associated Press.