Senate Democrats prevented a Zika bill from moving forward Tuesday over provisions blocking Planned Parenthood funding and lightening EPA restrictions.
The 52-48 vote fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance the legislation, which would have provided $1.1 billion in funding – a compromise between the $1.9 billion called for by the White House and the $622 million proposed by House Republicans– while incorporating the pro-life amendment and changes aimed at temporarily easing restrictions on spraying pesticides to kill mosquitoes – which are the primary transmitter of the virus linked with serious birth defects.
GOP lawmakers slammed Democrats, saying they are putting pregnant women at risk by failing to agree to the measure.
“We know that if we don’t get this job done, we won’t have a vaccine within a year and a half, and in the short term, we’ve been told that the single most effective thing we can do is kill as many mosquitoes as possible as fast as possible right here in the United States in the southern part of our country,” House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. “And so here we are in an utterly absurd position of playing political games as this public health crisis mounts here in our country.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry defended move, arguing it’s unfair to put the blame on Democrats when what he referred to as “poison pills” were attached.
“As we sit here dithering because of this foolishness on Planned Parenthood, Clean Water Act, cutting veterans funding, Ebola funding, Obamacare, confederate flag – each day more women are prevented from getting the attention they need for birth control,” Reid said. “It is unbelievable that someone would have the audacity to come to the floor and say, well, it’s the Democrats’ fault. We think you should get some money for Zika funding, but it should be offset. It wouldn’t be truly an emergency funding.”
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn cautioned the American people will hold Democrats accountable for their decision not to act.
“I heard the Democratic leader basically saying that because his party is a sore loser in a conference report that they don’t love, that they’re going to block funding to prevent more babies from contracting the birth defect,” Cornyn said. “Women of child-bearing age are scared to death that their baby will end up like this baby. Yet, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears among those in this chamber, largely Democrats, who voted against advancing this legislation.”
The legislation was attached to a larger veterans affairs spending passed in the lower chamber last week during the Democrats’ sit-in on the House floor over Republicans opting out of bringing a gun-control vote to the floor.
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