(UPI) — One day after the House passed legislation to spend more than $620 million to fight the Zika epidemic, the Senate on Tuesday advanced its own legislation that earmarks $1.1 billion to the cause.
The Senate’s pledge is about $800 million shy of the amount requested by the Obama administration to fight the disease, which has spread across continents and landed in the United States over the past year.
A proposal for the entire $1.9 billion was rejected, as was a bill that pledged the cash but included spending cuts in other areas to offset the cost.
Several lawmakers stated emphatically that action must be taken now against the epidemic.
“If anybody in the audience or in this room doesn’t think this an emergency, you should have been with [Maine] Senator [Susan] Collins and I two weeks ago,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said. “There have already been one million cases in the Caribbean and Central America and South America, 500 cases in the United States of America and it’s going to grow.
“The faster we get our arms around it, the better off the American people are going to be.”