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Mitch Perry Report for 5.18.16 — D.C. Republicans at odds with each other on Zika funding

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The U.S. Senate advanced a $1.1 billion bill to help public officials battle the Zika virus Tuesday as it begins to threaten America.

That’s $800 million less than the $1.9 billion that President Obama has been calling for since February, but it is more than the $622 million that the GOP-led House passed on Monday. Much of it would come from money that was approved to fight the Ebola virus and that health officials say is still needed for that purpose.

That angered Florida House Democrats like Gwen Graham, Kathy Castor and Patrick Murphy.

“If this Republican-led Congress continues to ignore this public health threat, I’m very afraid and many across the business community are afraid for the disaster this could mean for our economy, jobs and Florida’s tourism-based economy,” Castor said Tuesday.

“There have already been more than 100 Zika cases reported in Florida, and as summer approaches, the situation will likely worsen,” said Graham. “Floridians can’t wait any longer — lives are at risk. It’s time for Republicans to quit stalling and end their political games. We must fully fund research, prevention and response efforts to fight this deadly virus.”

Marco Rubio is also calling on his colleagues in the House that they need to cough up more money, alienating him with some conservatives.

C.D.C. director Thomas Frieden tells The New York Times why he needs the higher figure to try to stem the virus.

“We’re scraping together dollars to try to move as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re borrowing money from other programs. We’re writing short-term contracts. We can’t make long-term contracts with families to follow their kids. We can’t do long-term studies on how to stop the mosquito. We want to put together a whole package on how to kill inside, outside, how to kill larvae, how to do what works best. And it’s not possible under the House version.”

In other news …

There’s serious bad blood between Bernie Sanders and the rest of the world inside the Democratic Party. 

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to Tampa Tuesday to talk driverless cars. The region has received a grant to have the Selmon Expressway be a “test bed” for such vehicles.

GOP senate candidate Todd Wilcox sounds off in an interview conducted during last weekend’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Tampa.

New College political science professor and TV pundit Frank Alcock is now a candidate for the state Senate in the Sarasota area.

Alex Sink has endorsed Pinellas newcomer Jennifer Webb in the HD 69 race in Pinellas County.

Every major senate candidate has criticized Carlos Beruff for referring to President Obama last week as an “animal.” Well, almost every candidate.

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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