Rogers says House Republicans want $622 million for Zika; McConnell, Senate plan $1.1 billion; Obama wants $1.9 billion

UPDATE, May 16: The Republican package totals $622 million. May 17: Obama calls that “woefully inadequate,” says he would veto it.

House Republicans’ funding to fight the Zika virus will be about half the $1.9 billion President Obama requested, but still “adequate,” U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky’s Fifth District, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said Friday.

Dierdre Walsh and Ted Barrett report for CNN, “Ever since
they sent the request to Capitol Hill, the White House has complained
that Republicans are ignoring a public health crisis and need to sign
off on more money soon, especially before the potential risks from the
mosquito-borne virus increase with the summer months.”

    Rogers told
    reporters the bill he plans to introduce Monday will provide “less than a
    billion” for Zika but will be “adequate funding to face the problem.” Also, “the money will be targeted for agencies to spend
    right away,” Walsh and Barrett report. Rogers said the House could vote on the bill as early as Wednesday, May 18.
    “Rogers and other
    congressional Republicans said they hadn’t acted before now because the
    Obama administration wasn’t giving Congress the details on how they
    would spend” the money, CNN reports, “and they were working through
    their own analysis on how much the various agencies needed to deal with
    the immediate needs. House conservatives also demanded that any new
    money for Zika needs to be paid for with cuts to other programs.”
    His bill is “fully offset” with cuts, Rogers said, but he declined to say where, “saying his
    committee was still finalizing those details,” CNN reports. “But the White House and
    congressional Democrats argue in these cases Congress doesn’t
    traditionally specify cuts to pay for additional funding. An unnamed Democratic aide on the appropriations staff told the network, “We
    don’t offset emergency funding, period. And this is the definition of a
    public health emergency.”
    Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Democrats in that chamber “worked out a bipartisan $1.1 billion Zika proposal
    that they plan to attach to a separate spending bill” and scheduled it for a vote Tuesday, May 17, CNN reports. “The
    Senate will also vote on two competing proposals — one from the two
    Florida senators, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a
    Republican. It would fully fund the President’s request. The second is
    from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would provide about $1 billion and
    be offset with cuts elsewhere. Those last two proposals are not expected
    to pass.”
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