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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Bill Nelson, Democrats vote down Zika bill



UPDATE: The bill was blocked.

WASHINGTON - Democratic senators on Tuesday defeated a House-passed Zika bill that has come under criticism for what Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and others say are poison pills.

"Not only does it take $500 million in health care funding away from Puerto Rico, it limits access to birth control services needed to help curb the spread of the virus and prevent terrible birth defects. This is not a serious solution,” Nelson said last week, when the measure passed the House in the late hours of a Democratic sit-in over inaction on gun control.

Sen. Marco Rubio indicated last week he can support the bill, even though at $1.1 billion, it is $800 million short of what Rubio, Nelson and other Democrats want.

“At this point, I support getting something on Zika done," Rubio said. "Congress has shamefully wasted too much time already, and with summer here, the price of inaction will be devastating. Although this does not fully fund the president's request, it is at least a significant improvement from what the House passed earlier this year."

Republicans, who want to restrict the use of money by Planned Parenthood, say Democrats will pay a political price.

“The agreement before us is a compromise with input from both parties,” said Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “and it represents the last chance we will have to address Zika for weeks."

The White House has signaled a veto, though it’s likely not to get that far.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 12:22pm]


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