House and Senate negotiators continue
to try to find a compromise bill to address the Zika virus. Back in February, President Obama requested $1.9
billion in emergency supplemental funding to address the disease both in
Zika-endemic countries and within the United States. A Senate-approved bill would provide $1.1
billion to address Zika. The Senate bill
does not cut elsewhere in order to offset Zika funding. A House-approved bill would provide only $622
million, which would be offset by diverting funding from the Ebola response and
other public health priorities. A compromise bill that later emerged would have provided the Senate’s
figure of $1.1 billion with offsets pushed by the House. President
Obama threatened to veto the bill and it was ultimately voted down in the Senate
on June 28. IDSA and other health groups
are now calling on the House and Senate to restart negotiations.
IDSA has joined with other health
groups to urge Congress to immediately advance President Obama’s request for emergency
Zika funding. The Society has participated in congressional visits and weekly
White House strategy meetings, and IDSA members have sent nearly 600
to Capitol Hill in support of the emergency funding request.
In letters to Congress and media
outreach, IDSA and other health groups have underscored the urgent need to
provide new resources to address Zika right away, as opposed to delaying and
repurposing funding intended to address other important public health
threats. Historically, emergency
supplemental spending has not required offsets.
The requested funding would increase
international and domestic capacity for surveillance; expand the Field
Epidemiology Training Program, laboratory testing, and healthcare provider
training; accelerate research and development for medical countermeasures,
including vaccines and diagnostics; provide support for vector control and
other preventive activities; and provide services for infected and at risk
pregnant women and their infants.
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