Submitted by: Conservative 2 Conservative
Started by Robert M
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other members of the Democratic leadership are calling for new Zika talks
[When will this old basturd be gone?]
Jun 28, 2016 9:38 AM
Updated 11:30 a.m. The Senate blocked a plan Tuesday to spend $1.1. billion to fight the Zika virus, as Democrats objected to added provisions that would limit funding for birth control, allow pesticide spraying near water sources and raise the Confederate flag.
The conference report on Zika spending, which Democrats said was developed without their input , failed to receive the 60 votes needed to shut off debate.
The vote came as a Florida hospital reported it first case of a baby born with Zika-related birth defects. The child was born to a Haitian mother who traveled to Florida to deliver the baby.
"Here's where we are, we have a public health crisis descending on this country," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, accusing Democrats of playing "political games." He said the Senate would reconsider the measure again next week.
"This Republican conference report is disgraceful, shameful," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier. He and other Senate Democrats send a letter asking their GOP colleagues to work together on a bipartisan plan they could all support.
"We are fully committed to working with you to negotiate a response that sufficiently rises to this challenge. To that end we are ready and willing to immediately join you in a new round of negotiations on a truly effective, bipartisan package," wrote the members of the Senate Democratic leadership in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.
In addition to Reid, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington signed the letter.
Murray, who helped develop a Zika spending package, has said Republicans cut her out of the negotiations on the aid package aimed at the mosquito-borne virus which passed the House in the middle of the night last week amid a Democratic sit-in in that chamber over gun violence.
The Senate letter cites several objectionable provisions in the Republican plan, including limits to funding for providers of birth control and language that "would weaken clean water and air protections by waiving portions of the Clean Water Act," when it comes to pesticide use.
Senate Democrats have also expressed concern about the decision to strip language barring the display of the Confederate Flag on certain days at Veterans Affairs Department facilities. That's part of the regular Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill that's been tied to the anti-Zika funding.
The White House has pledged to veto the measure that comes in response to the administration's request for $1.9 billion to fight the spread of the virus, which can cause birth defects in infants and, in rare cases, death in adults.
Reid said there were already 2,900 U.S. cases of Zika, most of them in Puerto Rico, and eight babies born with Zika-related birth defects: one with a "shrunken head" and another with a "caved in skull."
Democrats called the bill's restriction on limit funding for providers of birth control services "a backdoor way of restricting care from women’s health providers like Planned Parenthood and family planning centers that would have serious consequences for women’s health."
Senate Republicans have played down concerns that the Democrats have raised about the conference report, especially the concerns about water quality.
"The final conference report provides targeted regulatory relief for local mosquito organizations. The targeted relief sunsets after six months. During that period, all mosquito pesticide applications will still be covered by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act," a GOP fact sheet said.
The Democrats also would prefer the Zika aid be designated as emergency spending and not offset with cuts in other areas.
But even as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, was telling reporters Monday that, "this is it," when it comes to a chance for Democrats to vote to fight the mosquito-borne illness with the package, conservatives were raising alarms about the offsets themselves.
Several GOP senators said they needed to review the package more carefully after a Congressional Budget Office report cast doubts on whether the savings used to pay for part of the bill was derived from money that would ever be spent.
"We've got to do something with Zika and I am very frustrated that we're just going to borrow the money. So every time there's a problem in America we need to spend an unexpected $2 billion," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said.
Sessions said that might cause him to vote against cloture, but "we need to get something done."
Bridget Bowman and Kelly Mejdrich contributed to this report.