House Dems: Obama to Reprogram Money for Zika Funds

WASHINGTON (CQ-Roll Call/TNS) -

After sitting on unspent funds for Zika, House Democrats said Thursday the Obama administration plans to reprogram more funding from the National Institutes of Health to fight the Zika virus.

Rep. Rosa Delauro (D-Conn.) told reporters federal officials “will make an announcement about it,” but didn’t provide more specific details.

Delauro was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in calling on Congress to return from recess to take action on Zika funding and host of other issues Democrats have been pressing before Congress recessed for the summer.

Delauro said the Department of Health and Human Services would take money for biomedical research from the National Institute of Health to deal with Zika.

“If they don’t, vaccine development will be stopped dead in its tracks,” Delauro said.

The call comes as Obama administration struggles to explain why it is pressing Congress for more money to fight the Zika virus while sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars it already controls.

The White House could tap into nearly $385 million in unspent previously reprogrammed funds.

White House and public health officials have come close to demanding the House and Senate interrupt a seven-week recess and return to Washington to give federal agencies up to $1.9 billion to counter the mosquito-borne virus.