The House of Representatives May 18 approved, on a party-line vote of 241 to 184, its $622 million Zika supplemental spending bill while the Senate approved its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD appropriations bill, which contained an amendment that would provide $1.1 billion in emergency supplemental funding to respond to the Zika virus. The White House has been vocal about the need to fund the $1.9 billion emergency supplemental funding request the administration submitted to Congress in February [see Washington Highlights, February 26].
House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) May 17 introduced the Zika Response Appropriations Act (H.R. 5243), and subsequently, the bill was approved the following day. Chairman Rogers’s bill is fully-offset; however, it reallocates $352 million in unused funds appropriated to address the Ebola virus outbreak. Further, the bill uses $270 million in “unused administrative funding” from HHS to offset the bill.
Meanwhile, Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) May 12 reached a bipartisan compromise that would provide $1.1 billion in emergency supplemental funding to respond to the Zika virus. The Senate May 17 invoked cloture by a 68 to 29 vote on the $1.1 billion emergency supplemental funding deal as an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD appropriations bill, rather than a standalone measure. Several Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the amendment.
The Senate’s bipartisan Zika supplemental provides:
- $200 million for the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to use for research and its response to the Zika virus;
- $449 million to CDC for its response to the Zika virus. Specifically, $88 million of the provided amount can be used to reimburse accounts that CDC has had to reallocate funds from to respond to the Zika virus;
- $150 million for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to respond to Zika and other outbreaks and to develop the necessary countermeasures, including vaccines;
- $211 million for Global Health Programs for assistance and research to respond to the Zika virus;
- $15 million for the State Department’s efforts related to the Zika virus, such as medical care for State employees or U.S. citizens in Zika affected areas;
- $40 million to HRSA for primary care health to respond to the Zika virus; and
- $10 million for USAID efforts to respond to Zika virus.
The Senate also considered two other amendments related to Zika supplemental funding. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment that would fully fund the Administration’s request for $1.9 billion to respond to Zika virus; however, the amendment failed. Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) also offered an amendment that would provide $1.2 billion in Zika funding, which was fully offset by rescinding funding appropriated to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, but it, too, failed.
The AAMC joined 60 organizations in a May 18 letter to House members urging them to “provide emergency supplemental funding to combat Zika virus “at or near the President’s requested levels, and to reject proposals that fall far short of those amounts, particularly those that would fund efforts against Zika by cutting other vital public health programs and priorities.”
The AAMC also joined more than 50 organizations in a Feb. 23 letter to appropriators in support of the White House’s request. The letter also urges Congress “to allocate new money for the response, rather than repurposing funds that are designated for Ebola response and global health security”