Watch CBSN Live

House, Senate GOP reach agreement on $1B Zika virus measure

WASHINGTON D.C. -- House and Senate Republicans have reached agreement among themselves on a $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus, but the measure drew immediate opposition from Democrats who signaled they would scuttle it over its spending cuts and "poison pills."

The measure -- and the looming partisan battle over it -- comes as a deadline to pass the Zika funding into law is beginning to run out.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., announced the agreement as he headed into a closed-door meeting of House Republicans.

The Zika measure was one of the topics for discussion, though more attention was focused on how Republicans would respond to a floor protest by Democrats demanding votes on gun-related legislation.

The $1.1 billion figure is the amount the Senate approved last month. The measure calls for $750 million in spending cuts to offset the funding for Zika efforts, including $543 million in unused funds from implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law and $107 million in cuts to leftover Ebola funding.

The Senate measure did not contain offsetting spending cuts and treated the Zika crisis as an official "emergency" like recent funding to battle Ebola and forest fires. It is being paired with a measure funding the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pro golfer Rory McIlroy says he will not part... 00:31

"We've been working for a while to get the Zika bill worked out. It is finally worked out," said No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise, R-La.

The GOP drafters of the measure were waiting for its official release before commenting on it or defending it.

One of the provisions opposed by Democrats blocks funds in the measure from going to Planned Parenthood for birth control services for women at risk of becoming infected with the virus. The measure also contains a provision backed by the House that would ease rules on pesticide permitting requirements.

"Just when you think you've seen it all, Republicans try to leverage a public health crisis to roll back access to health care for women and ram through an ideological agenda," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "Republicans are so controlled by their hard right that they are incapable of working with Democrats to solve a public health crisis and actually govern the country."

A spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted Democrats would successfully filibuster the measure.

What might happen next is uncertain. But time to pass the measure to provide money to battle the virus, which can be spread by mosquitoes common in much of the U.S., is slipping away as Congress is slated to recess for the party political conventions in mid-July.

Four months ago Obama requested $1.9 billion to battle Zika. When Congress failed to act, he transferred more than $500 million in unspent Ebola funding to develop a vaccine, research better tests to detect Zika, help states and localities battle the mosquitoes that spread it, and help foreign countries mount their own defenses against the virus.

The measure also contains a modified provision to permit combat veterans whose wounds have left them unable to conceive children to seek in-vitro fertilization treatments. But it would not permit the use of donor eggs and sperm, according to a summary of the measure prepared by Democrats.

GOP leaders also orchestrated removal of a House-passed provision that would ban the display of the Confederate flag over mass graves in VA cemeteries.

Meanwhile, 10 pregnant women in Dallas, Texas, are showing symptoms of Zika virus infection, according to health officials there.

Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday that there are nearly a dozen total cases in North Texas, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported, but none were contracted in the U.S.

Local cases are cause for concern. The virus can be spread if an infected person is bitten by a certain type of mosquito that then goes on to bite other people. That's the way the disease spread from Brazil throughout Latin America and the Caribbean over the past year. The same type of mosquito is found in parts of the southern United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not confirm any diagnosis publicly until after the babies are born.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.