Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Aides: Congress makes progress on Zika, spending

Wearing a homemade mosquito costume, an expectant father from Washington who asked not to be named, protests Wednesday over the lack of congressional approval to fund a federal response to the Zika virus. [Associated Press]

Wearing a homemade mosquito costume, an expectant father from Washington who asked not to be named, protests Wednesday over the lack of congressional approval to fund a federal response to the Zika virus. [Associated Press]

WASHINGTON — A long impasse that has delayed money to combat Zika for months neared an end Thursday as congressional aides said Republicans would relent and let Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics share in new funding to fight the virus. The potential deal would ease the way for Congress to quit work until after the Nov. 8 election.

Democrats welcomed the move, which would address their chief complaint to a GOP plan intended to fight the virus.

"I don't think that's a major issue right now. I think that will be resolved," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said of the controversy related to Planned Parenthood. Lowey is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

The money to fight Zika would be added to must-pass legislation intended to prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1. Several issues remain unresolved, and the measure won't be unveiled until next week, lawmakers said Thursday.

The plan by Senate GOP negotiators would allow Zika money in Puerto Rico, where the virus is spreading widely, to be distributed to clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood, a group many Republicans dislike because of the abortion services it provides.

The controversy erupted in June after Republicans limited distribution of health grants for Puerto Rico to entities like public health providers and hospitals, a restriction that Republicans acknowledge was aimed at making sure Planned Parenthood was ineligible to receive any of the funding.

Democrats also objected to other Zika provisions added by Republicans after bipartisan negotiations broke down, including $750 million in spending cuts that Democrats say should not be a condition for addressing disasters such as Zika. Republicans said Democrats were obstinate in the talks and exaggerated the impact of several GOP provisions, including a cut of $543 million to set up health insurance exchanges in U.S. territories that was never used and is privately considered by Democrats as a painless way to pay for the Zika measures.

The congressional aides, from both political parties, weren't authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other sticking points remain, including a GOP demand to keep the spending cuts and a provision to ease rules involving spraying of pesticides to combat mosquitoes that can spread Zika.

The temporary spending bill is the only must-pass item on the Capitol Hill agenda before the November elections. As such, it is being eyed to carry several add-ons, such as aid to help Louisiana recover from last month's disastrous flooding, and a long-shot attempt to allow the Export-Import Bank to approve larger transactions without a quorum of its board. Democrats are pressing to add money to help Flint, Michigan, fix its water system to eliminate the threat of lead-tainted water.

President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in February to combat Zika, which can cause severe birth defects and other problems. The Senate passed a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure in May, but demands for concessions by House conservatives as part of a final deal sparked the controversy.

Aides: Congress makes progress on Zika, spending 09/15/16 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2016 3:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  4. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  5. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)