The funds were originally earmarked to fight the Ebola virus, but with Ebola mostly eradicated and Zika spreading quickly throughout North America, government officials have decided to use these funds toward fighting the latter tropical virus. This move came after Republican Congressmen refused to offer $1.9 billion in emergency funds to prevent Zika from being transmitted in the U.S. and other countries.
According to officials, $510 million of Ebola funds and $79 million of miscellaneous funds will be diverted toward efforts to limit the spread of Zika.
“These repurposed funds are not enough to support a comprehensive Zika response,” said Shaun Donovan, Office of Management and Budget Director. He added that the Obama administration had to make this move as several important schemes would have been delayed or “curtailed” within months.
“We should not play with fire here,” Donovan continued, scoring conservative House members for their refusal to play along with the administration’s initiatives. “We want to be clear that Congress needs to act immediately,” he added. “We cannot wait.” And, in another scathing volley toward Republican lawmakers, White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said that GOP leaders should ask themselves if their disdain for President Barack Obama “trumps their desire to try to protect pregnant women in their states from this terrible disease.”
Be that as it may, Democrats expressed disappointment that the administration had to draw from the Ebola kitty in order to inject funds into Zika initiatives.
“We’re putting ourselves at risk by taking the Ebola funding,” said Sen. Patricia Murray (D-Wash.), who is the top Democrat on the administration’s Labor Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriation subcommittee “It is still an issue worldwide and we need to address it but I know they also need to deal with Zika. I don’t think they had a choice.”