State Capital Briefs (Evening Edition): Tuesday, Sept. 6
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio expressed frustration Tuesday after the U.S. Senate could not agree on a funding plan to help combat the spread of the Zika virus in Florida and other states. The Senate could not get the procedurally required 60 votes to move forward with a $1.1 billion funding plan. Democrats unanimously voted to block the bill because it included controversial language aimed at Planned Parenthood, according to a report in The Hill. Nelson said the funding bill should be sent to the House without the controversial provisions. “Let’s stop this monkey business,” Nelson said in comments distributed by his office. “Let’s stop these political games. Let’s stop these political riders.” But Rubio criticized what he called “obstruction” by Democrats. “For the third time, Senate Democrats have blocked our efforts to give health officials and experts the resources they need to fight the spread of the Zika virus,” Rubio said in a prepared statement. “If anyone thinks the Zika virus is some political game, they should take it elsewhere.” President Barack Obama early this year proposed spending $1.9 billion to address the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause severe birth defects. But Congress was unable to agree on a funding plan before going on a summer recess. Meanwhile, hundreds of cases have emerged in Florida, with some caused by mosquito bites in Florida and others related to travelers bringing the virus into the state.