Why Zika federal funding is being held up

Posted at 7:04 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 04:11:54-04

Monday’s news of yet another and now the 17th person with a non-travel related case of Zika here in Florida only fuels the frustration of many people in the state. There are people waiting for our lawmakers to take action.

However, federal funding to fight Zika has been put on hold.

RELATED: More Zika coverage

To understand how politics have hurt the fight to help contain Zika, let’s rewind a few months.

Back in February, President Barack Obama called the virus an urgent issue.

Also in February, Gov. Rick Scott declared a public health emergency.

Scott asked the federal government for help.

President Obama proposed a $1.9 billion plan.

But in June, Congress failed to pass measure.

If you don't deal with a public health crisis, what do you deal with,” said Brian Crowley, NewsChannel 5’s political analyst.

So how is it that money to help a public health crisis divided republicans and democrats?

It actually has nothing to do with Zika itself.

“As often happens in Congress they weren't dealing simply with an appropriations bill that allowed funding for Zika,” said Crowley. “Many things got attached to the bill including Planned Parenthood.”

And money for Obamacare - both highly charged, partisan issues.

While South Florida deals with now 17 confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika, both President Obama and Congress are on vacation.

Republican Rubio and Democrat Nelson did join together to call on the president to recall congress and for lawmakers to voluntarily end their recess.

The White House and Congress refused.

Just this afternoon, Hillary Clinton spoke in St. Petersburg about the Zika crisis.

"Tomorrow I will be visiting health professionals on the front lines in Miami who are confronting the Zika challenge because Washington cannot keep ignoring the needs of the families of Florida," said Clinton.

Meanwhile, President Obama could release as much as 400 million dollars of emergency management funds, but is hesitant to do so because if a hurricane or another disaster strikes, the White House says he might not be able to respond.

The same is true of Governor Rick Scott  who has allocated more than $26 million to fight Zika, but has spent only $2 million.