Senate Dems: Skip break, pass Zika funding

The upper chamber’s top two Democrats said Tuesday that the Senate should not leave town until it’s taken up emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. 
“I believe this is a serious public health challenge, so serious we should not leave Congress this week and take a recess without passing the president’s emergency budget supplemental for public health and the Zika virus,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. “The mosquitoes are not going to be on recess next week.” 
{mosads}Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added senators “can’t go on break without taking care of this emergency.” 
“When the Senate finishes its work on energy and water, we must move to the Zika legislation,” he added. 
Their comments come as senators have been locked down in negotiations over emergency funding for the Zika virus. The Senate is currently scheduled to leave town, likely on Thursday, for a weeklong recess.
While they’ve yet to clinch a deal, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, suggested he was optimistic last week, telling reporters a major funding package would get to the Senate floor “in the near future.” 
But Reid noted Tuesday that he has not seen language of any potential agreement. 
“Democrats are happy to work toward a solution, but we have to get started. We need to give the experts the resources they need to prevent the spread of Zika. It’s not acceptable to do nothing,” he said. 
The pressure tactics come after House Democrats rolled out legislation Monday that would meet Obama’s $1.9 billion funding request, even though that approach has been ruled out by House GOP leaders. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters last week that there likely wouldn’t be any resistance in the Senate for new money to combat the Zika virus. 
“We’re working with them on it to figure out exactly the right amount of money,” McConnell said at a weekly press conference. “You know, how is it going to be spent? And I don’t think, in the end, there will be any opposition to addressing what we think is going to be a fairly significant public health crisis.” 
Tags Dick Durbin Harry Reid Mitch McConnell Thad Cochran

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