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Dozens of Health Groups Renew Push for Bipartisan Zika Funding

More than 50 health advocacy organizations welcomed congressional leaders back to town Tuesday by renewing their calls for a bipartisan Zika package.

The groups, including the March of Dimes, the Sierra Club, Research!America and the American Academy of Pediatrics, are calling for Congress to move past the political fight that has dogged the government’s response over the past several months and pass a package that can pass both chambers and be signed by President Obama.

“As the virus gains a foothold in the mainland U.S., Americans have grown increasingly disillusioned with Congress’ failure to act,” the letter reads. “The opportunity for total prevention has been squandered; Congress must act now to contain Zika and prevent it from spreading to other communities.”

The Senate is expected to take a third vote on a funding bill that includes $1.1 billion for the Zika virus on Tuesday, but the measure is not expected to pass. Democrats have twice blocked the bill because they say aspects of it, including offsets and a provision that effectively bars funding from going to some community health centers including Planned Parenthood affiliates, are unacceptable.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week found that 36 percent of Americans believed Congress passing funding for the Zika virus should be a top priority for Congress, while an additional 40 percent say it’s an important, but not top, priority. Of those polls, 5 percent said no funding should be passed.

“Congress has already delayed too long,” they add. “All sides must return to the negotiating table immediately to craft a package that can be passed by both chambers and signed by the President. Anything else further endangers the health and wellbeing of American women, infants, and families.”