The president had requested $1.9 billion, and the Senate moved Tuesday to end debate on a bipartisan $1.1 billion emergency aid package co-sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Rogers’ bill uses offsets to pay for the funding it provides, including unspent money earlier allocated to fight Ebola. The White House and key Senate leaders oppose using offsets to pay for the Zika response.
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The mosquito-borne disease, which can cause severe birth defects, has already begun to affect the Southern U.S. and is expected to worsen in other parts of the country over the summer.
As of May 11, there were 1,200 confirmed cases of Zika in U.S. states and territories, including five in Kentucky.
In a statement of administration policy released Tuesday, the White House called Rogers’ bill “woefully inadequate.”
1,200 Confirmed Zika cases in U.S. states and territories as of May 11
The bill would not provide any funding for Zika efforts beyond the end of the current fiscal year – Sept. 30.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the White House warned, “would no longer have this funding for these activities and, given uncertainty around the disease, funding could run out even sooner.”
“Like prior emergencies,” the White House wrote, “the effort to protect the American people from the Zika virus should not be funded incrementally.”
Like prior emergencies, the effort to protect the American people from the Zika virus should not be funded incrementally.
White House statement of administration policy
Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he thought his bill was “the best, most responsible way” to address Zika.
On Monday, Rogers said the White House had not provided adequate accounting and justification for its $1.9 billion request.
“We have made our own funding determinations, using what information is available and through discussions with federal agencies, to craft a proposal to fight the spread of this damaging disease,” Rogers said in a statement.
He added that his bill would help address the most urgent needs.
This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately.
Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
“This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately,” he said, “such as vaccine development and mosquito control.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee, had supported a failed effort by Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson of Florida to provide the president’s full request for Zika funds. Still, on Tuesday, she called the $1.1 billion Senate compromise “a step in the right direction.”
Confirmed as of May 11
Puerto Rico, 669
New York, 98
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention