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Senate Deal Reached on Reduced Zika Funding

  • VOA News

FILE - Dallas County Mosquito Lab microbiologist Spencer Lockwood sorts mosquitoes collected in a trap in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection, Feb. 11, 2016.

FILE - Dallas County Mosquito Lab microbiologist Spencer Lockwood sorts mosquitoes collected in a trap in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection, Feb. 11, 2016.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a bill to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. The deal fell short of the $1.9 billion requested by the Obama administration.

The administration requested emergency funding to battle Zika in February, but Republicans controlling Congress have been slow to react, and that prompted the administration last month to tap more than $500 million worth of unspent Ebola funding to battle Zika.

Senators are scheduled to vote Tuesday.

The White House said it welcomes any progress made on the issue.

"I think at this point, given the delays and given the heightened stakes, we welcome any sort of forward momentum in Congress," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a briefing Thursday.

But top Senate Democrat Harry Reid gave the proposal a frosty reception, saying it is "not enough, especially when the amount will likely be reduced further by House Republicans.''

The first death related to a Zika virus infection on U.S. soil was reported late last month in Puerto Rico. U.S. officials believe the Zika-carrying mosquito could spread to at least 30 U.S. states.

The disease has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities. It also is suspected of causing a rare neurological disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can result in paralysis.

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