Prevention/Health – House and Senate Pass Zika Funding Bills

On May 18, the House passed a freestanding $622 million funding bill, the Zika Response Appropriations Act (H.R. 5243), to address the Zika virus. The costs for this supplemental spending bill are fully offset by using $352 million in “unobligated” money for the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and $270 million in “unused administrative funding” from the Department of Health and Human Services. Funds would be allocated for fiscal year 2016, which means they could be used during the next five months. The Senate followed suit on May 19 by passing a two-bill spending measure (H.R. 2577) that includes a $1.1 billion agreement on responding to the Zika virus for four months. Passage of bills with such significant differences in the amount of funding promises a complicated conference process between the House and Senate. Public health and disability advocates are seeking amounts closer to the President’s request of $1.9 billion which may have to play out over time with additional spending bills.

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