Zika funding remains at an impasse after the Senate voted down a $1.1 billion conference report for the third time along party lines Tuesday.
The legislation failed in a 52-46 cloture vote, with Democrats slamming the bill for containing language to cut Planned Parenthood funding. Both sides in both chambers continue to point fingers, alleging the opposing party is playing politics in the face of a public health crisis.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans have made Zika a priority, having passed the legislation in the House in June.
“Why would the Democrats continue to do that with American lives in general? That’s the question that needs to be asked,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday ahead of the vote. “We took this up months ago, we started the whole discussion on this – I called Steny Hoyer, we had a bipartisan meeting, we brought committees in from both sides of the aisle … This is not a time to for politics, this is the time to solve this.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer slammed the GOP, saying they should have gotten behind legislation that didn’t contain “poison pills.”
“The Republicans passed what they knew was a partisan, non-passible bill,” Hoyer said at a press event Tuesday afternoon. “The Senate passed a bill in May, 68-30, which was an agreement between the majority and Sen. Murray and Sen. Blunt – $1.1 billion, it would not cut, it passed the Senate easily, we could have passed it now, but once again Republicans wanted to send messaged to their base rather than constructively respond to the problems that Americans see.”
A House Republican aide close to the situation told The Daily Caller News Foundation the conference is weighing a number of different options on how to handle the issue, adding GOP lawmakers would ultimately like to see Senate Democrats drop their filibuster.
Lawmakers have floated the idea of tacking Zika funding on to a must-pass continuing resolution in lieu of a standalone bill.
Hoyer said regardless of how it is passed, he believes Congress needs to act.
“Both are responsible things to do, and if we put them together, that would be fine with me, accept the premise that there is nothing in there that will undermine the CR or Zika bill,” a GOP aide told TheDCNF.
While an agreement has not yet been reached, leadership remains optimistic they will strike an agreement.
“Despite Senate Democrats’ obstruction of the House-passed $1.1 billion bill to fight Zika, we are confident resources will get approved in September,” AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said in a statement provided to TheDCNF.
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