The group is expected to talk about a continuing resolution, or CR, to temporarily fund the government when the 2017 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Congress has yet to approve full appropriations bills to fund the government in fiscal 2017, a senior Democratic congressional aide said.
Republicans in Congress are planning a light legislative agenda as they return from their long summer break on Tuesday, a strategy some say is designed in part to bog down Hillary Clinton if she becomes president. It is not uncommon for the Congress to take it slow in an election year and legislative delays could work in Republicans’ favor if their nominee Donald Trump takes the White House in November.
Democrats and Republicans were tantalizingly close to a deal on funding Zika prevention measures this summer when it all fell apart in the final 48 hours, according to interviews with a half-dozen senior congressional staffers involved in the talks.
1. Whenever a new Zika case is confirmed in Florida, I will immediately rush to that county and stage a “round-table” discussion. This will calm fears in the local community, and lead tourists to believe that it’s still safe to visit.
The agency said its decision was based on concerns about more cases of local transmission in Florida, the growing number of travel-related infections and concerns that Zika-tainted blood could unwittingly be given to a pregnant woman, putting her unborn baby at risk of severe birth defects.
Concerns over the Zika virus are leading constituents in affected areas to push their Republican members of Congress for action. This is not the first time there have been significant calls for action on Zika, but this past summer, Congressional Republicans left for a seven week recess without doing anything to address the growing crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a full quarter of Puerto Rico’s residents will be infected with the Zika virus by the end of 2016. That dire warning was initially made in June, as health officials noted the disease was spreading at previously unexpected speeds.
Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes appeared on CNN to discuss Zika’s spread and Sen. Marco Rubio’s opposition to abortions for pregnant women infected with the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause microcephaly.
Federal officials took nearly $600 million that had been aimed at fighting Ebola and shifted it to battle Zika instead when Congress first balked at approving $1.9 billion in funding that the administration had requested. The White House continued to press for the larger amount, but Congress failed to agree and then left for a seven-week summer recess.
“By the time they get back, it’ll be really too late to have much impact,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “So whatever is going to happen, looks like it’s going to happen.”
Four people in Dade and Broward counties were infected in early July, got sick a week later and were diagnosed a couple of days after that. “All the evidence we have seen indicates that this is mosquito-borne transmission that occurred several weeks ago,” said Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Borrowing money earmarked for other programs, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has started enrolling men infected with Zika in Brazil and Colombia in the study to determine how long the virus remains transmittable in semen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and congressional Democrats, and President Obama — has requested funds to study and fight the virus, but Republicans want to combat it by stripping away environmental regulations on an array of pesticides.
Local health departments do not have months to wait for Republicans to fund the Zika fight. In July, the CDC will shift $44 million of its emergency response funds to fight Zika unless the funds are allocated by Congress, an action that would have crippling effects at the local level.
Norm Ornstein, a non-partisan expert on the inner workings of Congress says it’s “no exaggeration” to call this one the worst ever. And sometimes even that seems mild. Here’s why.