Funding to fight the ongoing Zika virus outbreak remains tied up in bureaucracy as the U.S. Senate adjourned for a week-long recess after hearing arguments over the best way to fund the fight against the virus.
“We shouldn’t be taking 10 days off as a dangerous virus threatens this nation,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, the Atlantic reports. “And it is threatening us.”
The White House asked Congress for $1.9 billion in Zika emergency funding in February. Some funds that were allocated to the Ebola response have been repurposed to help with Zika, but health officials argue more is needed. As the Atlantic reports, Republicans have requested answers on how much funding is needed for fiscal year 2017 and how much is needed before the end of fiscal year 2016, as well as what the funds will be going towards.
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Former presidential candidate and Florida senator Marco Rubio, whose state is at a higher risk for Zika cases, called for quicker movement on the decision. “My advice to my colleagues is, we’re going to deal with this, and I hope we deal with it at the front end,” Rubio said on Thursday. “Because not only is it better for our people, it’s better for you. You’re going to have to explain to people why it is that we sat around for weeks and did nothing on something of this magnitude.”
There have been other deals suggested, like passing a lower amount of emergency funding, but the Senate recessed without agreeing on any amount.
“I’ve been saying it publicly for a very long period of time, the President asked for $1.9 billion because we needed it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health told TIME on Friday. “We are not going to be able to do what we need to do without the supplemental [funding]. So it’s really very critical. I think everybody agrees that we need it. The argument is under what mechanism are we going to get it and when are we going to get it. But we certainly need it as quickly as possible.”