A bill that included funding for Zika virus response activities has failed in the Senate because of provisions in the bill that involve Planned Parenthood and the Confederate flag, among other disputed issues. With Senate Democrats opposing the measure, a Tuesday vote to “invoke cloture” (end debate) on the bill received only 52 of the 60 votes that would have been necessary to hold a vote.
Among the problems that Democrats say they have with the appropriations bill that includes the Zika funding:
- It cuts $540 million in Affordable Care Act funding.
- It doesn’t include money for Planned Parenthood or any other contraceptive providers. (This is a shortcoming because Zika can be transmitted sexually.)
- It doesn’t include a provision passed earlier in the House that would prohibit federal funds from being used to fly Confederate flags at veterans’ cemeteries.
- The Zika money it does include is $800 million less than what the Obama administration has asked for.
While a number of U.S. Zika cases have been confirmed in individuals who traveled outside the country, none are yet known to have been acquired here. Hopefully that will remain true as Congress goes through the arduous process of getting its act together.