Politics

House Democrats to Demand Action on Zika

Senators say compromise proposal coming soon

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

House Democrats announced on Tuesday their intention to file a discharge petition for a $1.9 billion emergency supplemental funding package to combat the Zika virus.  

The emergency supplemental measure, introduced months ago by Appropriations Committee ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., would fully fund the Obama administration’s funding request.  

In a conference call announcing the discharge petition, Lowey pointed out that Wednesday will mark four months since the administration submitted its request for emergency funding.  

[ Congress Failing Zika Test ]  

She said that the House and Senate conference committee on Zika funding is continuing discussions on a compromise measure but that Democrats were discouraged by the first meeting and feel that a discharge petition may help spur action more quickly.  

“We don’t have an agreement and there’s no guarantee any agreement we reach will pass muster with the Republican leadership,” Lowey said of the conference committee.  

[ Senate Votes to Go to Conference on Zika Spending ]  

Across the Capitol, senators expressed optimism that a conference committee would come up with a compromise plan soon.  

"I have heard that it's ready but I don't have the details of it, so today or tomorrow yes. Today, and then we would vote on it on Thursday, that's what I heard," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Tuesday.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say after the caucus lunch specifically when a Zika conference report would emerge but said "we're anxious to finish that."  

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said the conference committee has not even set a time for a second meeting and that if a compromise is reached it will likely still be an inadequate level of funding given that the bill House Republicans passed only provided for one-third of the original request.  

“A discharge petition may be the way we can gather both Democrats and Republicans who believe that this is the right course of action,” DeLauro said.  

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also joined the call to discuss concerns about the Zika virus’s impact in her home state of Florida, saying that continued inaction will have a detrimental impact on public health and the economy.  

“Speaker Ryan and the House Republicans continue to stand in the way of meaningful action on this issue,” she said.  

Kelly Mejdrich contributed to this report.

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