Congress has just returned from a seven-week-long recess, and it has to decide on a wide range of federal spending issues, many of which are split down partisan lines. Emergency funding to combat Zika is one of them, and once again, political maneuvering and ulterior motivations taking priority has squashed it.
This political déjà vu has occurred just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it had spent nearly all of the $222 million allocated to the agency – siphoned off from pre-existing emergency funds – in the war against the virus.
Whatever happens, lawmakers do have to decide on what funding package to grant to the US government for the 2017 fiscal year, which starts on October 1. The only hope now is that additional Zika funding emerges as a feature of this bipartisan spending arrangement. However, a massive stumbling block remains.
Republicans are currently mulling over whether to accept the current deal struck with Democrats, or whether to change it to suit their priorities more. It’s highly likely that a so-called “continuing resolution” will be enacted, wherein the fiscal year 2016 budget will be temporarily extended until the beginning of next year.
This allows Republicans to see who they will be dealing with in the White House when the elections take place this November, and act on the budget accordingly. If this happens, all federal science budgets will be frozen until the deadlock is passed, which will ultimately benefit no one – except the Zika virus, of course.
An Aedes mosquito doing its ghastly thing. mrfiza/Shutterstock