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House Republicans unveil Zika funding bill

There are new fears about the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus
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House Republicans on Monday introduced a bill that would fund efforts to fight the Zika virus, but it's nearly $1.3 billion less than what President Obama requested from Congress.

The bill would provide $622.1 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The House version is also nearly $478 million less than some of the proposals pending in the Senate. In February, the president asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, which officials are concerned could be transmitted for the first time in the U.S. this summer through mosquito bites.

Congress never acted on that request and Republicans delayed consideration of it, demanding that the administration first draw on funds intended for the Ebola fight for Zika. The administration eventually complied with that request in April, but officials say that amount was less than what's needed.

The House bill would not authorize emergency funding, but would instead be paid for through offsets of existing funds.

Authorities brace for Zika virus in U.S. 06:20

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, pointed out that the House proposal is less than one-third of Mr. Obama's original request and doesn't repay funds to an account for the Ebola fight.

"The growing threat of Zika demands passage of the President's full $1.9 billion supplemental now, not a woefully inadequate proposal tied to an appropriations bill that is six months away from the President's desk," Hammill said.

After the Senate unveiled three-part deal last week, which includes two $1.1 billion proposals, Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan stressed that the administration needs the full $1.9 billion request.

"I am concerned that anything less than that $1.9 billion would put the American people at potentially greater risk whether it's Zika specifically or from increased risk of Ebola," Donovan said. "Based on the science, based on everything we know, we continue to believe that $1.9 billion is the right request."

The Senate is expected to vote on Zika proposals as early as Tuesday.

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