WASHINGTON - Gov. Rick Scott this afternoon will begin a two-day lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to press for money to combat the Zika virus, though there were signs Monday that a partisan stalemate could be easing.
Scott will meet with Sen. Marco Rubio as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees health. Scott will also meet with reporters.
Wednesday Scott meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of Florida House delegation. His staff said it would be a bipartisan group.
One key figure Scott apparently is not meeting with is Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who has been at the forefront of the Zika issue along with Rubio. Nelson's office said Monday afternoon that Scott, who could run against him in 2018, did not reach out to him.
Scott's visit was supposed to happen last week but then Hurricane Hermine hit Florida. He arrives in Washington as lawmakers are settling back in after a long summer recess that left the Zika issue hanging.
Democrats and Republicans are divided on how much money is needed. The White House and Democrats (and a few Republicans, Rubio among them) want $1.9 billion. Republicans pushed for $1.1 billion but attached policy riders that affected Planned Parenthood, a provision Democrats refused to support.
But Monday, McConnell said the impasse could be broken by putting money into a short-term budget deal to keep the government operating through early December. To pass, the riders would have to be abandoned.
After meeting with Obama at the White House that afternoon, McConnell told reporters that a budget deal was close and "I think we're all in a very good place to do that on a bipartisan basis pretty quickly."