Republican lawmakers block Zika funding to abortion groups

By Lisa Correnti | June 23, 2016

Democratic lawmakers are unhappy with the House bill that passed yesterday to fight the Zika virus. The $1.1 billion package takes concrete measures to eradicate the virus excluding hundreds of millions that could have gone to international abortion groups.

The original $1.9B request by the Obama administration included a few hundred million for the global health programs administered by USAID — including specifically for family planning.

Family planning funding has grown exponentially under this administration with all humanitarian and development assistance programs viewed through a reproductive rights lens. Overseas family planning programs have been integrated into programs for the environment, education, nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDs and refugee and conflict assistance.

This increase in population control efforts has benefited mega global abortion groups like International Planned Parenthood Federation, now the recipients of millions of dollars in grant awards. Republican lawmakers were wise to prohibit this initiative from being one more funding channel to abortion groups.

Both the White House and the Senate Minority leader expressed disappointment with the shortfall in birth control funding. “A narrowly partisan proposal that cuts off women’s access to birth control…is not a serious response to the threat from the Zika virus,” said Senator Harry Reid.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the Republicans move to limit spending for birth control meant they didn’t take the Zika threat to pregnant women seriously.

House Republicans disagree. The bill contains oversight measures to assure funding of substantive programs that directly combat the Zika virus.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said it was a balanced bill that should have bipartisan support and “an effective, responsible approach to addressing the Zika crisis.”

The Zika provision in the House bill contains $476 million for the CDC to target mosquito control efforts domestically, $230 million for vaccine research, and $85 million for biomedical research. The $145 million for global health accounts through USAID is limited to international vector control, diagnostic tests and vaccines to prevent further spreading.

The Zika funding was included in the $82 billion appropriations bill for the Dept. of Veteran’s Affair. The legislation moves to the senate. It is unknown whether Democrats will filibuster over a lack of birth control funding.