While White House gives its take on House Zika funding bill, sites track response, impact

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“This is a conference report that doesn’t look like it can even pass the United States Senate.  But if it did, and the President was presented with the bill, he would veto it.  And let me explain why . . .”

Four months after asking Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to control the spread of Zika and its health impacts, and within 24 hours of a response to that request, in a bill allocating $1.1 billion to Zika efforts, but only $250 million in new funding, an Obama Administration official confirmed that in the event the measure passed by the House Thursday is passed by the Senate, the President will veto it.

“This is a plan that doesn’t adequately fund the crisis, that actually blocks contraception for women in the United States and in Puerto Rico, even though this exact virus is a sexually transmitted disease,” Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters en route to San Francisco Thursday. “And it also steals money away from critically important public health priorities. We have public health experts on the ground right now in West Africa, making sure that the precautions and safeguards are in place to prevent another Ebola outbreak.”

Reiterating these points Schultz noted that the measure Congress passed early Thursday also redirected dollars from Department of Health and Human Services resources, and funding for the Affordable Care Act. In addition, he noted that the bill  “guts some provisions of the Clean Water Act,” and added that he doubted the Senate would pass the bill.

In the meantime, the STAT health reporting website has produced an easy way to count the days since the President asked Congress to fund a response to the first mosquito-borne disease known to cause devastating birth defects as it continued to sweep through countries in the Western Hemisphere, with its STAT Tracker.

And the CDC continues to track domestic impacts of the Zika outbreak, with updates to its pregnancy registry now showing four children born in the United States with Zika-associated birth defects, and four Zika-associated pregnancy losses.

See reporting on the House Conference Zika Funding Bill here.

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