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Vern Buchanan latest Republican to support Obama's Zika request

Published May 2, 2016

Citing "troubling new developments," Rep. Vern Buchanan came out Monday in support of $1.9 billion in funding sought by President Obama to fight Zika.

"Zika's shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States," Buchanan said. "The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly."

The Sarasota Republican was quick last month to applaud Obama for securing $589 million, mostly taken from funds to combat Ebola. But Buchanan was hesitant on the fuller amount. "The congressman believes the first action should be to use money already available, and if that's insufficient then we should explore additional funding," a spokeswoman said at the time.

But the problem has gotten more attention and last week, a person in Puerto Rico died as a result of the virus. Buchanan cited that death plus "new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think."

Democrats have pressed Republicans to back the funding (Sen. Marco Rubio is a leading Republican supporter) but it's gotten bogged down in politics. Some Republicans say Obama should exhaust the $589 million first. Others say they want any additional funding to be offset.

"There's a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington – and this is the latest example," Buchanan said. "Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat."