Senate Democrats press for $1.9B to fight Zika virus

Posted at 2:54 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 14:54:59-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are pressing top Senate Republicans to stop dragging their feet and act immediately on President Barack Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to combat the Zika virus.

A majority of the chamber’s Democrats sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter demanding a Senate vote on additional Zika funds. The White House says the money is urgently needed to fight the spread of mosquitoes that transmit the virus, develop a vaccine, and help other countries battle Zika.

Zika can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is far smaller than normal.

Obama has redirected more than $500 million in unspent Ebola-fighting funds but the White House says it’s only a temporary solution. Republicans are signaling that they’ll provide some Zika money.