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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson and Rubio team up on measure to provide $1.9 billion to fight Zika

Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio announced this afternoon a plan to provide $1.9 billion in funding to fight Zika -- the full amount President Obama wants.

The Florida lawmakers will introduce it as an amendment to a military spending bill expected to come before the full Senate as early as next week. It comes a day after word surfaced of a deal for $1.1 billion, setting up a potential battle.

"The administration has been clear from the start: it's going to take $1.9 billion to stop the spread of this virus, not $1.1 billion," Nelson said.

“I've said repeatedly that Congress should not allow politics to delay action on Zika, and I'm hopeful‎ we'll begin to see some meaningful action on this public health emergency very soon,” Rubio said. “There's no reason every proposal to address Zika cannot be bipartisan and earn broad support, and I'm hopeful we can reach a final outcome that fully addresses the problem. As I said yesterday, no one wants the Zika issue to become a full-blown crisis that leaves us scrambling to respond. Let's deal with this now and protect our people, including the American citizens in Puerto Rico who have been most impacted so far. The strain on Puerto Rico's health system from Zika must be addressed, as this proposal does."

A news release stated, "It will now be up to Senate leadership to decide whether to bring either or both proposals up for a vote when the Senate begins consideration of the military spending bill next week."

Nelson had already offered a bill to provide the full amount but no Republicans had signed on, including Rubio. Rubio's office did not respond to questions about why.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 2:22pm]


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