Congress approves $1.1 billion in Zika funding as it avoids government shutdown
On Wednesday, Congress approved $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus in a short-term spending bill. In doing so, it's sidestepped a government shutdown.
The House voted 342-85 and the Senate voted 72-26 to pass the legislation, which will fund the government through December 9 and provide time to work out the long-term spending goals for 2017, The New York Times reported. President Obama supports the bill and is set to sign it into law by Friday.
The spending bill was held up for months due to a debate for financing improvements to the lead-tainted water supply in Flint, Michigan. Congress has been under pressure from the White House and other government organizations to pass the law. Vice President Joe Biden told Congress on September 8: "Do your job."
The bill no longer includes restrictions to Planned Parenthood clinics, which hindered past negotiations, The New York Times said. The bill also includes funding for military housing, infrastructure and services.
Further, the bill passed despite objections from both conservatives and Democrats. The agreement is contingent upon a water projects bill, which would authorize $170 million in spending to areas where the president has declared emergencies - like Flint.
"A continuing resolution is a last resort," Rep. Harold Rogers (R) Kentucky and House Appropriations Committee chair said, according to the Times. "But at this point, it's what we must do to fulfill our congressional responsibility to keep the lights on in the government."