1. Breaking News

Lawmakers push for Zika funding in Washington: 'This is a big moment in the history of Florida'

Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, at a Zika news conference on Tuesday
Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, at a Zika news conference on Tuesday
Published Sep. 13, 2016

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers -- including one of the most liberal and the most conservative in Congress -- pressed Tuesday for a "clean" $1.1 billion spending measure to combat the Zika virus.

"This is a big moment in the history of Florida. If I'm being urged to vote to spend big money overseas for bombs, by God I'm going to vote for financial bombs to go after a bad mosquito in order to save babies," said Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Bonita Springs, a staunch fiscal conservative.

Clawson took the lead in the funding measure and was joined at a news conference at the Capitol by a gaggle of Republicans and Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson, liberal firebrand Alan Grayson, Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, David Jolly and Gwen Graham.

"Unfortunately this has become a partisan game in Washington, D.C.," said Murphy, whose campaign shortly after issued a statement blasting Sen. Marco Rubio for not attending the news conference.

The cohesive Florida effort comes late, however, and a stalemate over funding appears to be lifting as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to insert $1.1 billion in a short-term budget deal, Senate officials confirmed Tuesday. It would not include policy riders that Democrats say were designed to attack Planned Parenthood. Rubio spoke about the deal on the Senate floor.

Gov. Rick Scott is in Washington today and tomorrow to make his own appeal for funding.