WGCU - Florida's Congressional Delegation Calls Renewed Zika Funding Talks Welcome News

News Article

Date: Sept. 14, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

By Sascha Cordner

Could Congress be close to passing a Zika funding bill? A bipartisan group of Florida's Congressional Delegation is calling that welcome news.

As soon as sometime this week, the Senate could vote on a bill that would help fund efforts to combat the Zika virus. It's a mosquito borne disease that can cause severe birth defects.

It would only be a temporary fix, as it would be included in a budget measure to fund the government through December. But, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says it's better than nothing.

"Throughout my time in the Senate, I have regularly opposed these short-term spending bills because I don't think funding government on a month to month basis is the smart way to run the government of the most powerful and important nation on Earth," said Rubio. "But with Zika becoming a public health emergency the way it has, this is a necessary exception for me to make."

As for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), he says this is great news--as the state nears 800 Zika cases.

"We should do it, and this wonderful news that I have heard that a deal is being struck is welcome, welcome news to this Senator," said Nelson.

A group of Florida's Congressional Delegation in the House, which includes Republicans and Democrats, are also on board. And, Florida Congressman David Jolly, a Republican, says he has a simple message for his colleagues:

"The House needs to accept the clean Senate language that received bipartisan support in the Senate," said Jolly. "We can do that here in the House as well."

Meanwhile, Governor Rick Scott also made a trip to Washington D.C. Tuesday to talk about the importance of Zika funding. He met with Rubio, at the same time as criticized Nelson for voting against a Zika funding House measure last week. In addition to talking to members of Congress, Scott also talked to House Speaker Paul Ryan.