The House finally passed a $1.1 billion funding bill to combat the spread of the Zika virus, but it falls short of President Obama’s request for $1.9 billion. About $400 million is new spending; most of the money has been redirected from other programs, including a fund to fight Ebola.
Democrats have sharply attacked the bill. In a statement, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest summed up many of the critiques:
“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.”
But House Speaker Paul Ryan urged Senate to pass the bill:
“This is a significant step forward in the fight against Zika. It is a responsible plan that assures the administration will continue to have the needed resources to protect the public.”