By Jill Drachenberg, Managing Editor, AHC Media
As the Zika virus spreads via local transmission in the Miami area, Congress yet again failed to pass legislation that would have provided desperately needed funding for research and disease prevention.
After returning from a seven-week recess, both parties remain deadlocked over funding squabbles, particularly the GOP’s provision to strip funding from Planned Parenthood in Zika-stricken Puerto Rico. But as the November general election draws closer, lawmakers face increasing pressure from constituents to pass something quickly.
There also is pressure from the CDC, as director Tom Frieden, MD, announced last week that the CDC’s initial $222 million Zika allocation is nearly depleted. Without additional funding, Frieden said, programs such as building a mosquito control board for Puerto Rico and essential vaccine research will be cut.
One solution the GOP may pursue is to include Zika funds in the short-term stopgap funding bill that will be necessary to pass by the end of the month to prevent another government shutdown. But such a measure would be temporary, and may fall short of funding needs.
As of Aug. 31, the CDC is tracking more than 16,800 U.S. Zika cases, including 1,500 pregnant women and 17 babies born with severe Zika-related birth defects.
For more of AHC Media’s comprehensive ongoing coverage of Zika virus developments, please visit reliasmedia.com/Zika.