Congress halts Zika funds as cases spread

Posted at 5:28 AM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 07:08:15-04

Congress failed to move forward a $1.1 billion funding package to help the country address the outbreak of Zika for the third time Tuesday, just as Florida reported seven new locally-transmitted cases of the virus.

In addition to the 56 people infected with the disease in Florida, 2,686 travel-related cases from across the country have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At least 23 of these cases have been transmitted sexually. The CDC reports that 624 pregnant women have tested positive for some evidence of the virus, and 16 babies have been born in the U.S. so far that have birth defects linked to it.

Led by Senate Democrats protesting language they say will limit funding to Planned Parenthood, lawmakers voted down the spending package by a 52-46 vote, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward on the legislation.

"For the health of our country and for the protection of all our children, let's get this compromise legislation done," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn urged in a statement after the measure failed. "No one should doubt the gravity of the threat or the long-term health consequences of failing to get our work done."



"They tried to disguise the fact that what they were trying to do was eliminate Planned Parenthood," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. "Remember, Planned Parenthood last year, 2 million American women went to Planned Parenthood now with this Zika virus frightening women all over America, they want to cut this off?"

The CDC has warned lawmakers that it needs federal funds to combat the disease's spread.

“Basically, we’re out of money,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters in Washington, D.C. last week. “Congress needs to do something.”