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Curt Clawson Hopes to Break Washington Gridlock on Zika Funding

August 25, 2016 - 9:15am
Curt Clawson
Curt Clawson

Looking to break the deadlock in Washington over additional funding to Zika, retiring Republican Curt Clawson of Florida offered a proposal on Wednesday. 

Pointing to reports of at least 600 Zika cases in the Sunshine State, Clawson said he would introduce a proposal to send $1.1 billion to fight Zika when the House returns in September. 

The Senate passed a similar amendment back in May on the “Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act” proposed by Florida Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

Clawson insisted the funds were urgently needed. 

“With each passing day that we do not act, the Zika outbreak will grow faster in Florida, endangering the future quality of life for the unborn,” Clawson said.  “Now is not the time for partisanship; it is time for governing and doing the right thing for Florida and the nation.  America has the most advanced healthcare facilities in the world and must use all resources at its disposal to create a vaccine for this virus.   It is time for members to pull all levers in both chambers of Congress to get a funding measure to the president’s desk.” 

Earlier this month, Clawson and Diaz-Balart teamed up to send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushing two options to end the stalemate with one of them being Clawson’s proposal. 

“Despite the acknowledged threat to the United States, the House and Senate have thus far been unable to agree on meaningful prevention, containment, and treatment measures,” the Florida congressmen wrote. “Further disagreement and inaction is unacceptable, and we implore the Senate to explore all options to make urgently-needed funding available immediately.
“The House has referred multiple Zika-related measures to the Senate for final passage,” they continued. “In May, the House passed H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act.  Passage of this bill is the quickest way for the Senate to get a clean bill to the President that responds to the threat posed by Zika.  It would appropriate over $600 million in funding to combat the spread of the virus through the remainder of this fiscal year, allowing Congress additional time to pass long-term, comprehensive legislation during the appropriations negotiations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.  Additionally, the Senate could agree to the conference report to H.R. 2577, which includes language that would direct $1.1 billion through FY2017 to fight the spread of Zika.
“Regardless of which bill receives final passage, it is unacceptable to wait until after the August recess to act,” the congressmen concluded.  “We again urge the Senate to aggressively pursue any options that would start the flow of needed resources to the frontline to secure the nation from this biological threat.” 

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