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Bill Nelson urges Mitch McConnell to bring back Senate’s $1.1B Zika funding proposal

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Sen. Bill Nelson is urging Senate leaders to bring back a $1.1 billion proposal that would help fight the spread of Zika.

The request comes just one day after the Florida Department of Health announced 11 new cases of Florida, bringing the total number of travel-related cases in the Sunshine State to 263.

In a letter Thursday, the Florida Democrat asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bipartisan $1.1 billion bill the Senate passed back to the floor for a vote as a standalone bill. Last week, the Senate voted down a $1.1 billion House proposal.

Democrats blocked the GOP-drafted measure by a 52-48, short of the 60 votes required to advance it. The party faulted Republicans for packing the bill with provisions designed to deny new funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico and ease rules on pesticide spraying.

Nelson told McConnell reminded that “both sides of the aisle came together on the Senate Floor” to pass its version of the $1.1 billion funding proposal.

“I strongly urge you to advance a bipartisan bill that provides emergency funding, and is free of misguided policy riders,” said Nelson in his letter. “Time is of the essence.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 930 cases of travel-related cases of Zika reported in the United States. So far none of the cases have been locally transmitted.

Last week, the Florida Department of Health announced it had confirmed its first case of microcephaly in an infant born in Florida whose mother had a travel-related case of Zika. The mother contracted Zika while in Haiti.

In his letter, Nelson said lawmakers need to stop using funding as a vehicle to advance politics and take a bipartisan approach to funding.

“Funding our nation’s Zika response is something that simply cannot wait any longer and it cannot be used as a vehicle to advance partisan, ideological positions,” he said. “Surely, this is something that members of both parties can agree to.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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