Congress includes Zika funding in stopgap spending bill

McConnell with other GOP Senate leaders,
John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn
of Texas (Getty Images photo by Alex Wong)

Congress has finally appropriated $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, as part of an emergency spending bill needed to keep the government operating as the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “unveiled a stopgap spending measure last week that indulged several Democratic demands, including a meticulously constructed deal on Zika funding and the elimination of several contentious policy riders,” Mike DeBonis reports for The Washington Post.

Those riders included a prohibition on Zika funding for Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico, where the virus is rampant, and a waiver of environmental rules on spraying for mosquitoes. They spread Zika; so does sexual contact.

“The short-term spending bill was a triumph for Democrats, who were able to exact numerous concessions from Republican leaders who were determined to avoid a distracting government shutdown in the middle of campaign season,” DeBonis writes. “That has prompted grumbling from House conservatives, in particular, and increased GOP pressure on McConnell and Ryan to draw a harder line when the stopgap expires in December.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has much in common with House conservatives and is running for re-election against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, voted against the bill.

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