The United States (US) Senate on 18 May 2016 approved a bipartisan 1.1 billion US dollar emergency funding to combat the Zika virus in 2016 and 2017.
The measure presented by Sens Roy Blunt (Republican from Missouri) and Patty Murray (Democrat from Washington) was supported with 68-29 votes. The fund would be designated for both international and domestic Zika control and prevention efforts.
Highlights of the Bill
• The fund will be used to control mosquito populations, public education and the development of a vaccine
• It would be used to increase laboratory capacity for research into the virus connected with birth defects.
• Of the 1.1 billion dollar Senate package about 361 million US dollars will be directed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for programs, and 200 million US dollars will be directed to the National Institutes of Health to aid in vaccine research.
• The fund will also be used for new diagnostic tests for the Zika virus,
• More than 50 million US dollars will be directed for Puerto Rico, which has been especially hard hit.
However, the funding sanction for fighting Zika virus is less than what White House has demanded. It had asked the Senate to provide a package of 1.9 billion US dollar for a broad initiative that would include mosquito-control programs and birth-defect surveillance.
Prior to this proposal, two Zika funding proposals were blocked on procedural votes in the Senate. One stalled with 50-47 vote demanded administration’s 1.9 billion US dollars. The second demanding 1.1 billion US dollars was halted with 52-45 votes. Both measures needed 60 votes to advance.
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What: Approved by US Senate
When: 18 May 2016