CDC Urges Congress To Provide More Zika Funding
Frieden spoke with lawmakers for the first time since February, urging them to pass the $1.9 billion request from the Obama administration. The agency has gone through or budgeted nearly all of the $222 million it had borrowed. Half of the money went to local and state health agencies with the rest going to the development of new diagnostic tests, improve public awareness and increase staff to combat the outbreaks in southern Florida and Puerto Rico.
Acccording to the CDC, $193.7 million has already been spent and the remainder is spoken for. Several million dollars is for workers’ pay over the next several weeks.
The virus is known to cause multiple severe birth defects, and has hit tropical U.S. territories and southern Florida. There are two known ways for the virus to be passed: through the bite of mosquitos and sexual contact.
Lawmakers head back to Washington in three weeks to approve a spending bill that will avoid another government shutdown. If the bill doesn’t include the funding Frieden is asking for, the CDC cannot continue its efforts to combat Zika.
The agency said money from other important programs – HIV prevention, disease tracking and immunization. Even if they got the extra money, Frieden said it’s not enough to invest in mosquito control and Zika testing. He said there’s a lot of things that can’t be done.
It’s been eight months since the CDC enacted its Zika response, and it’s been since that time that Congress approved any kind of funding for it.
The Senate came up with a $1.1 billion bipartisan agreement during the spring session, but it died after GOP leaders considered another spending bill that took money away from Obamacare and went after Planned Parenthood.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has set up another vote to be done next week for a partisan bill. However, Democrats said they would block it, on the hopes that they could force an anti-Zika package into the stopgap spending bill.