GOP leaders in Congress are increasingly sounding like they will support at least some of the White House’s funding request to fight the Zika virus.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that the House will take bipartisan action on Zika funding, though he did not say that it would be exactly what the White House wants.
“We do anticipate some kind of bipartisan action on this, because this is something we want to get ahead of,” Ryan said at a press conference.
The White House is asking for $1.8 billion in emergency funding for programs including the creation of rapid response teams for local outbreaks of the virus and boosting vaccine research.
Ryan said that lawmakers are still waiting for the formal submission of this request from the administration, adding that Congress would then have to “scrub” the request.
He didn’t say that the House would approve exactly what the White House asked for, and indicated any funding would have to be offset. Figuring out how to pay for the new funding could be an obstacle.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday also expressed hope that the funding could pass in a bipartisan way, saying her “read from the Speaker is that [the issue] will be bipartisan, hopefully noncontroversial, as we go forward to meet the president’s request for Zika emergency funding.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who oversees health funding for the House Appropriations Committee, said he believes most in the GOP will support extra dollars to fight Zika. For now, he said members are just waiting on a dollar-by-dollar breakdown of the administration’s request.
“I have no doubt that it’s a very serious situation and I think Congress does need to sit down and work with the administration and react quickly, and I think that’s a very common sentiment,” he said. “I talked with Secretary Burwell on Super Bowl Sunday, so you know it was serious.” Read more here: http://bit.ly/1o41Akm
ZIKA LINKED TO TWO MISCARRIAGES IN U.S.: Two American women have had miscarriages after being infected with the Zika virus while traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.
The two miscarriages are the first linked to the Zika virus in the U.S., CDC spokesman Tom Skinner confirmed to The Hill on Thursday. The virus was found in the women’s placentas, he said.
The pair of miscarriages is likely to raise the level of fear within the U.S., which had seen a total of 51 cases — including one pregnant woman — as of last week. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1Qb0srY
SENATE FIGHT BREWING OVER DRUG ABUSE BILL: A funding fight is threatening a bipartisan bill aimed at fighting the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse.
Senate Democrats said Thursday they will seek to attach $600 million in emergency funding when the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) comes to the Senate floor after next week’s recess.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, stopped short of vowing to filibuster the bill if the new funding is not added, but said a fight is coming.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office fired back. “We certainly hope that our friends on the other side of the aisle aren’t looking for a justification to try and block a bipartisan bill addressing a national crisis,” said McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer.
Read more here: http://bit.ly/1TVvzHG
ON TAP TOMORROW
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will brief members on the GOP budget.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Walgreens to roll out kiosks that dispense drug antidote without prescription (Fox News)
IRS chief: ObamaCare has worsened customer service, data hacks (Washington Examiner)
States are rationing Hepatitis C drugs (Fiscal Times)
IN THE STATES:
As Zika virus arrives in U.S., NC left without mosquito monitoring (WRAL)
Iowa Senate votes to repeal Branstad’s Medicaid plans (Des Moines Register)
ICYMI FROM THE HILL:
Panel votes to ban e-cigarettes on flights http://bit.ly/23ZUC0U
Official: Olympics will not be postponed over Zika virus http://bit.ly/1QYZ6Of