Senate Democrats today blocked $1.1 billion Zika virus prevention funding. The bill which included the Zika funding failed to get the 60 votes it needed to end debate and allow it to advance in the Senate. The final vote was 52-48, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his vote to “no” so he could bring up the bill again. The Senate Democrats have killed the bill for the remainder of the summer.
According to the Washington Examiner article, the measure passed the GOP-led House along party lines last week. It was written by House and Senate Republicans and the cost was partially offset with unused federal funding. The blocked bill calls for more than $100 million to be redirected from funds originally meant to fight the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which has receded. The World Health Organization terminated its Public Health Emergency of International Concern on March 29, 2016. Another $543 million would be shifted from an unused fund that had been intended to start Obamacare insurance exchanges.
Democrats now oppose the bill because it prevents the butchered baby parts selling abortion factory know as Planned Parenthood from using any of the Zika funding. Democrats also wanted the Zika bill to include emergency deficit spending instead of the set offs.
Sen. John Thune called the Democrats out for basing their opposition on the Planned Parenthood provision saying that the measure expands funding at other health clinics and would only block funding at a few Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico. “The exact same amount that Democrats unanimously supported six weeks ago and now Democrats don’t want to support it,” Thune said.
There are now 2,900 Zika infected people in the United States, including 481 pregnant women. And the Sarasota Patch reports that the first baby with Zika-related microcephaly has been born in Florida. The mother of the deformed baby is a citizen of Haiti who came to Florida to deliver the child.