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2. A Primer: How The Fight Against Zika Might Be Funded

The Senate approved an amendment to a must-pass appropriations bill that provides $1.1 billion to combat the virus’s spread. A separate House proposal, which has drawn a veto threat from the White House, is also pending and it is not clear how they might compromise. But public health advocates say efforts are needed soon to fight the mosquito-based disease. (Shefali Luthra, 5/17)

4. Political Cartoon: 'All Eyes And Ears'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'All Eyes And Ears'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

THE POLITICS OF FUNDING A PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE

Zika … mosquito …
Vetoes … Just like in scrabble,
These words are high stakes.

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. Senate Passes $1.1B In Zika Funding With Push From Southern Republicans

Meanwhile, the House, ignoring veto threats and pleas from Democrats, has put forth legislation that would provide only $622 million in resources to fight the outbreak, about one-third of what President Barack Obama requested.

The Associated Press: Senate Easily Advances $1.1 Billion In Zika Funding
The Senate voted decisively on Tuesday in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus this year and next, cutting back President Barack Obama's request but offering significantly more money to fight Zika than would House GOP conservatives. The 68-29 vote propelled the measure over a filibuster and sets the stage to add the Zika funding to an unrelated spending bill. It comes three months after Obama requested $1.9 billion to battle the virus, which can cause severe birth defects. (5/17)

The New York Times: Senate Votes To Advance Emergency Funding To Fight Zika Virus
A number of Senate Republicans, particularly from Southern states that face the most immediate threat from Zika virus, spoke out forcefully for government action, putting added pressure on House Republicans who have accused the Obama administration of using the threat of Zika to demand a “slush fund” from Congress. But Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, said he had recently spent four hours at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looking at models of how the virus could spread. “If anybody in the audience or in this room doesn’t think this is an emergency, you should have been with Senator Collins and I two weeks ago at the C.D.C. in Atlanta,” Mr. Isakson said. (Herszenhorn, 5/17)

USA Today: Senate Advances Compromise Bill To Provide $1.1 Billion To Combat Zika
The Senate compromise provides $800 million less than the $1.9 billion that President Obama has been seeking since February. But it is far more than the House is proposing. Republican House leaders introduced legislation Monday that would provide $622 million in Zika funding, which they would pay for in part by using money allocated to fight Ebola. The House bill could come to a vote as early as this week. (Kelly, 5/17)

The Washington Post: Congress Struggles To Strike Deal On Zika Funds As Concern About The Virus Grows
There is government speed, and then there is virus speed. They’ve been mismatched in this year of Zika. The political apparatus of Washington has been sluggish compared with the epidemic that already has taken hold in Puerto Rico and poses a serious threat to the mainland United States as mosquito season arrives. On the Hill, the Republican-controlled House and Senate have different ideas about how much emergency money should be appropriated to combat the contagion — as well as where that money should come from and whether it has to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. (Achenbach and Snell, 5/17)

Politico: Senate OKs $1.1 Billion To Fight Zika; House Wants Half That
The divide between House and Senate Republicans is coming to a head after months of congressional squabbling over the administration’s funding request as the summer mosquito season approaches. The Zika virus, which has been directly linked to the severe birth defect microcephaly, is already spreading through mosquitoes in Puerto Rico. Local transmission of the virus is expected to take place in the continental United States — particularly the Southern states — this summer. (Haberkorn, 5/17)

The Associated Press: House To Vote On Scaled-Back Zika Bill Despite Veto Threat
Republicans controlling the House are ignoring protests from Democrats and a White House veto threat as they speed legislation funding the battle against the Zika virus to a vote. The $622 million GOP plan would provide one-third of the resources requested three months ago by President Barack Obama to combat the virus, which can cause severe birth defects and other health problems. It is "paid for" with cuts elsewhere in the budget, including unspent funds from the successful fight against Ebola. The White House has issued a veto threat on the House measure, saying it is woefully inadequate and protested that it would only fund the Zika battle through September. (5/18)

Kaiser Health News: A Primer: How The Fight Against Zika Might Be Funded
The Obama administration says the Zika virus is the nation’s next big public health threat. But there is continuing disagreement on how much money it will take to counter it. The Senate thinks $1.1 billion is the magic number. It voted 68 to 29 Tuesday to allocate that amount toward fighting this mosquito-borne virus — whose rapid spread globally has for months fueled concerns. The funding would be provided through an amendment to a larger appropriations bill, which could gain final passage later this week. The vote follows months of sparring between lawmakers, the White House and public health officials. (Luthra, 5/17)

Morning Consult: Zika Conference On Tap, Which Could Delay Congress’ Response
It could take until well into the summer, or even longer, for Congress to actually pass a final spending bill to combat the Zika virus. Top Senate and House negotiators plan to confine a formal conference committee to hash out their differences that they hope can be sent to President Obama before the July recess. But there are some crucial differences between the two efforts that will need to be reconciled within that time. (Reid, 5/17)

In other Zika news —

USA Today: CDC Cut $44 Million In Local Health Funding To Pay For Zika Response
Short on funding to combat a potential Zika outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control shifted $44 million from its fund for local health departments to Zika, a move that public health officials say [weaknens] their ability to plan for and respond to other emergencies. The CDC tapped into the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which provides federal money for communities to deal with health emergencies of all kinds, from hurricanes to flu pandemics. (Szabo, 5/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Town Buzzing Over Biotech Mosquito For Zika Defense
A biotech mosquito is kicking up a political storm in the Florida Keys. Oxitec Ltd., a British maker of genetically modified insects, plans to go door to door in coming weeks to pitch Key Haven, Fla., voters on the virtues of a modified mosquito that the company says can help kill off wild populations known to spread maladies like the Zika virus and dengue fever. Critics of Oxitec’s proposed field trial are pushing back with yard signs and social-media campaigns, warning that the biotech mosquitoes aren’t needed to curb diseases and could harm local ecosystems. (Bunge, 5/18)

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