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David Jolly latest Florida lawmaker calling for Congress’ return to D.C. for Zika funding

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As health officials report more than 400 travel-related and 22 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in Florida, U.S. Rep. David Jolly becomes the latest Florida lawmaker calling on Congress to return to Washington and pass a bill to fund the growing health crisis.

“With Congress not scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. for nearly four weeks, I support calls for an emergency session to address this health issue and quickly reach a bicameral, bipartisan consensus package that can be enacted into law immediately,” the Pinellas County Republican wrote on his Facebook page Thursday.

In making his request, Jolly joins a growing list of Republicans and Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation who have been calling on lawmakers to return to the nation’s capital to address the issue. Gov. Rick Scott also called on Congress to go back to D.C. to pass a bill earlier this week, as did Charlie Crist, who Jolly will likely be facing in November,

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of the 22 Zika cases that health officials in the Wynwood area of Miami are dealing with is the first known pregnant woman likely infected in the U.S. by a mosquito bite, rather than from travel or sexual intercourse. The Florida Department of Health says it has identified 18 positive cases so far from the Wynwood area.

“In recent weeks, we have worked through some of the concerns with the President’s proposal, and while I still prefer a package introduced by both U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, the debate has gone on too long. We cannot let our differences lead us to inaction, “Jolly writes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan would be the man to call the House of Representatives back to Washington to approve a package, but he tweeted last week that “Here’s the #Verified truth: the #Zika crises has been hijacked by #Democrats for political gain.”

In Miami on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton called on Republicans to “pass the bipartisan bill in the Senate or come up with a new compromise that does the same.”

House Republicans did vote to approve a Zika funding bill in May, but the White House vowed to veto it, and Democrats opposed the measure because it pulled about half of the $622 million in the bill from efforts to fight Ebola.

In June, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have provided $1.1 billion in funding to fight Zika, accusing Republicans of filling the bill with unrelated and politically charged provisions like restrictions on Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization.

Democrats have since pushed for a “clean” Zika funding bill, but Republicans have accused them of not being willing to pass the two measures they proposed.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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