Senate approves $1.1b in Zika funding as part of stopgap spending bill
The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to keep the federal government running through Dec. 9, including $1.1 billion in long-awaited emergency funding for prevention and treatment of the Zika virus, according to reports.
The 72-26 vote came just 2 days before federal agencies were set to run out of money, and represents a break in the months-long stalemate over the issue of funding a response to the Zika virus, which has been confirmed to cause microcephaly and other birth defects. The bill also provides $37 million to fight opioid addiction, and includes funding to provide assistance to Flint, Michigan, to address the lead in its water supply.
In a statement released following the vote, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) President Thomas Gellhaus, MD, praised the Senate for approving the funding package.
“This marks a pivotal moment in the fight against the Zika virus in our country where the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to show the American people that it is capable of rising above partisanship for the health of its citizens,” Gellhaus said in the statement. “ACOG's 57,000 members are on the front lines, caring for women whose pregnancies are at risk from Zika and Zika's devastating birth defects. This funding package will provide emergency funds to further Zika vaccine development, research and prevention. Our nation needs immediate action. We hope the U.S. House will move swiftly to pass this package and send it to the president for signature.”
Hours later, the House approved the measure by a vote of 342-85.