Politics

House and Senate Republicans Reach Deal to Fight Zika

But Democrats are not going to be a part of the agreement

House-Senate negotiators reached a deal on federal funding of efforts to fight the Zika virus. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on legislation designed to respond to the Zika virus in the United States.  

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., confirmed that an agreement is in place. Several senior aides said the final conference report is expected to be filed on the House floor Wednesday night, hopefully before midnight.  

Details were not immediately available. But top Democrats were not a part of the conference agreement.  

“I will not support the Republican Zika-Military Construction-VA conference report that limits needed birth control services for women in the United States and Puerto Rico, and includes a troubling pesticides policy rider that endangers clean water protections," said Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Barbara A. Mikulski.  

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Republicans try to leverage a public health crisis to roll back access to health care for women and ram through an ideological agenda," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "Republicans are so controlled by their hard right that they are incapable of working with Democrats to solve a public health crisis and actually govern the country."

Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, tweeted that, "the only 'deal' is House & Senate Republicans agreeing to launch more attacks on women's health."

Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations, said a few hours before word of an agreement got out that there were "no discussions" by Republicans with her about what was going on with the conference.

"It's the quietest conference I've ever participated in," Murray said.
 

In one of his first interviews after announcing he was seeking another Senate term, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida lamented the slow pace of the negotiations, given that mosquitoes have been actively biting and cases of the Zika virus have emerged.  

Rubio had been practically alone among Republicans in backing the White House's full $1.9 billion request to combat the virus.  

"Every day that goes by is a day too late," Rubio said.  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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