Congress Moves on Zika Funding

The U.S. Senate voted decisively last week in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus this year and next, cutting back President Barack Obama’s request from $1.9 billion, but offering significantly more money to fight Zika than the U.S. House.  For its part, the House approved an emergency appropriations measure providing limited funds – less than a third of what was requested – only through the end of this fiscal year (September 30, 2016), as described in this Science news report. Florida Governor Rick Scott has urged Congress to pass a Zika funding bill, according to the Miami Herald.  And a May 17 Boston Globe editorial headline said Funding to Fight Zika Shouldn’t Wait. The challenging negotiations ahead for Congress and the White House to resolve the question are described here by the Washington Times.

The fact that animal research is critical to understanding the Zika virus and finding a vaccine has been part of the public discussion.  In a Newsweek op-ed, FBR President Frankie Trull explained how primate research is key to finding a Zika vaccine.  Also, three studies showing the Zika virus causes microcephaly in mice embryos are discussed in these May 11 reports in The Scientist and the Los Angeles TimesCNN and the BBC have broadcast news stories acknowledging the contributions of animal studies to Zika research.