U.S. Congress Agrees to Fund Zika Fight
After nearly seven months of partisan bickering, Congress has agreed to spend $1.1 billion to help reduce the spread of the Zika virus and manage the effects of the disease. While all involved agree that Zika is a public health emergency, the delay in funding resulted from disagreements over whether it should be considered “emergency” spending, and whether or not it should be made available to Planned Parenthood clinics. In the end, language preventing the money from going to Planned Parenthood was dropped from the legislation.
According to the CDC, more than 23,000 people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have contracted Zika—including over 2,000 women who are pregnant. It’s estimated that at least 20 babies have been born with birth defects related to the virus in the United States.
Federal agencies like the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services were running out of funds to combat Zika. The legislation includes $394 million to help control Zika-carrying mosquitoes, $397 million to develop a vaccine and better diagnostic tests, and $66 million for Zika-related health care in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
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