Zika Spreads, White House Waits

Obama Administration ‘Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars That It Already Controls And Could Be Used’

Obama Administration Still Hasn’t Spent Funds It Already Has To Combat Virus

“The Obama administration is struggling to explain why it is pressing Congress for more money to fight the Zika virus while sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars that it already controls and could be used instead.” (“Administration Sitting On Unspent Funds For Zika,” Roll Call, 8/2/16)

  • “The White House could tap into the $400 million that remain of the previously reprogrammed funds. An Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman confirmed Friday that $385 million is still in that account. The administration does not need congressional approval to decide how to spend the money.” (“Administration Sitting On Unspent Funds For Zika,” Roll Call, 8/2/16)

“The White House that is responsible for public health is trying to blame Congress while ducking its own failures.” (Editorial, “Zika And The Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/2/16)

  • “[T]he Administration currently has $385 million in reprogrammed Ebola funds at its disposal. Only about half of that has been obligated . . . Yet the Administration continues to insist it needs more money even though it can’t spend the money it has fast enough. President Obama is fond of executive action, yet in this case he hasn’t taken lawful steps on his own to arrest Zika’s spread.” (Editorial, “Zika And The Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/02/2016)

In Letter To President Obama, Appropriations Committee Members Urged White House To ‘Aggressively’ Use Existing Funds

Letter From House And Senate Appropriations Committee Chairmen And Members: “On February 18, 2016, we called upon your Administration to repurpose available funds to be spent immediately to fight the disease.  On April 6, 2016, you did so through the use of existing authorities, repurposing $589 million for Zika response activities. . . . This money is available immediately to prepare for and combat Zika, yet is seemingly not being spent.” (Senate Appropriations Committee, Press Release, 7/14/16)

  • “If Senate Democrats continue to block consideration of Zika legislation, we urge you to aggressively use funds already available to mount a strong defense against the virus.  We also note that the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills allow the Administration access to additional funds.  The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has transfer authority that can be used as an additional source for Zika preparedness. The previous Secretary did not hesitate to use this authority to support the failing Affordable Care Act Exchanges. . . We urge you to use available funding now to ensure that our nation is prepared.” (Senate Appropriations Committee, Press Release, 7/14/16)

Senate Democrats Twice Blocked Funding To Fight Zika

“Senate Democrats have blocked the funding package [to help fight the spread of Zika] drafted by congressional Republicans . . .” (“Zika Fear Prompts Travel Warning For Miami, CDC’s First In U.S.,” The Washington Post, 8/1/16)

  • “Last month the Senate and House agreed to a $1.1 billion compromise . . . But Senate Democrats blocked the conference report, inventing the excuse that the bill banned funding for Planned Parenthood, restricted access to birth control and gutted the Clean Water Act. None of this is true.” (Editorial, “Zika And The Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/2/16)

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[I]t’s shocking that Senate Democrats blocked Congress from passing legislation that would have marshaled immediate federal funds to fight the Zika virus. They blocked anti-Zika funds and prevention efforts, not once but twice.” (Sen. McConnell, Op-Ed, “Senate Democrats Chose Politics Over Funding Zika Fight,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 8/1/16)


Related Issues: Appropriations, Health Care, Senate Democrats, Zika Virus