After months of Congressional hearings, hours of expert testimony by some of the brightest minds in public health, and repeated warnings from advocates, including NRPA, about the dangers of waiting to mount a full-throated response to the Zika virus, Congress has taken the first step to paying for a comprehensive effort to Zika’s spread.
The House of Representatives passed a $622 million bill that includes:
- $170 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including $50 million for mosquito control and maternal and child health.
- $230 million for the National Institutes of Health to develop a Zika vaccine.
- $103 million for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute future Zika vaccines, provide data on the spread of the virus and transport medical supplies.
The bill would be paid for by tapping $270 million in leftover money from HHS’s 2009 budget, in addition to transferring $352 million in unused money earmarked to combat the Ebola outbreak.
In the U.S. Senate, a $1.1 billion bipartisan compromise to fund the Zika response was attached to a must-pass spending bill.
The Senate package doesn’t require the Zika funds to be paid for, but does mandate that a Zika spending plan be submitted to Congress every 90 days through September 2017, and every 180 days afterwards.
NRPA continues to work with members of Congress on both sides of the isle to advocate for the highest level of funding possible for the Zika response. As the warmer summer months approach and the need to combat the spread of Zika increases, it is imperative that both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate work quickly to send a bill to the President that empowers park and recreation agencies to act. These dollars will go a long way toward helping park and recreation agencies, in conjunction with local departments of health and public works, control mosquito populations, conduct public outreach and properly ensure the health and safety of expectant mothers, children and families in the communities we serve.
Read the latest edition of Parks & Recreation magazine and learn more about the role park and recreation agencies play in combating the Zika virus.
Oliver Spurgeon is NRPA's Manager of Government Affairs.