As the Senate stalled for a third time Thursday night on funding to fight Zika, leaders from both parties said they are “hopeful” they’ll come to a deal but blasted the opposition for their role in holding up the deal.
Members of the Senate held a procedural vote on one Zika funding proposal Tuesday on the chamber’s first day back from its summer recess; the legislation failed to move forward with a vote of 52-46 (60 votes were needed).
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Wednesday, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) said Democrats keep blocking the legislation because they are “beholden” to “special interests.”
“Democrats can’t seem to take yes as an answer on Zika,” he said. “This is the third time now the Democrats have had an opportunity to vote on that issue and obviously they chose the special interests that they have who have their ear, and that they’re beholden to instead of the moms and babies around this country who are looking for some relief.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said Democrats are open to a compromise on Zika funding, but that the Republicans’ proposal includes funding taken from other key programs.
“You talk about a game-changer: they sent back to us funding for Zika, but how would they pay for that?” he said. “Take $500 million away from veterans that would be used for processing plants. Over $100 million from Ebola, hundreds of millions of dollars from Obamacare and of course eliminate the ability of women to go to Planned Parenthood.”
Zika is “a disaster for America and the world,” Reid added later in the press conference.
Tuesday’s vote followed a day of floor discussion about the effects and spread of Zika, a topic that included some out-of-the-ordinary speeches by members in both the House and the Senate. Rep. David Jolly (R-Florida) spoke on the House floor holding a jar of mosquitos he had brought from his home state of Florida, which has locally-transmitted cases of Zika. (According to Jolly, the mosquitos in his jar did not have Zika, but were the type of mosquito that can contract the virus.)
And a new mother brought her baby to Democratic press conferences, to describe how she was vacationing in the Bahamas and received a call from her parents about the threat of Zika.
CBS News’ Walt Cronkite and Catherine Reynolds contributed to this report.