In a recent editorial for The Hill — a newspaper that covers Congress — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, got right to the point. “Zika is not a theoretical threat,” she wrote. “It is very real, and scientists are warning that it could have catastrophic impacts right here in the U.S.”
Ideally, the Senate will heed those threats today when it is expected to consider competing plans for combatting the disease. In February, President Obama requested $1.9 billion to fight Zika, a request that largely has gone ignored until now. Senate Democrats have been in favor of approving the request; Senate Republicans have been leaning toward $1.1 billion in funding — so long as that money is taken from funding earmarked for the Affordable Care Act. It is the same kind of gridlock that has so poorly served the American public in recent years.
But last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced a bipartisan agreement forged with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to approve $1.1 billion in straightforward funding — an idea designed to draw support from both parties.
Meanwhile, Herrera Beutler has been beating the drum in the House of Representatives for funding to figh