May 16, 2016
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced legislation to provide funding to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The bill, the Zika Response Appropriations Act, 2016, will likely be considered in the House this week.
For months, House Republicans have been calling on the White House and Administration officials to provide specific information regarding funding proposed to fight the Zika outbreak, and for federal agencies to use all existing resources at their disposal to address the spread of the disease. Without action, the virus is expected to continue to spread around the globe and within the United States, placing pregnant women and infants especially at risk.
The Administration has still not provided full accounting and justification for its request for Zika funds. Given this lack of complete information and the need to act quickly, independent determinations on necessary funding levels and federal activities to fight Zika in the current fiscal year were made. Any future funding that may be necessary will be considered as the ongoing fiscal year 2017 Appropriations process continues.
Chairman Rogers’s statement on the proposal follows:
“Given the severity of the Zika crisis and the global health threat, we cannot afford to wait on the Administration any longer. We have made our own funding determinations, using what information is available and through discussions with federal agencies, to craft a proposal to fight the spread of this damaging disease.
“This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately, such as vaccine development and mosquito control. The legislation funds these efforts in a responsible way, using existing resources – including excess funding left over from the Ebola outbreak – to pay for it.
“This funding is critical to stop the spread of Zika, and to protect our most vulnerable people both here at home and abroad. Every child deserves the chance at a full and healthy life, and every mother deserves to see her child thrive. This measure will help make sure this happens, while doing it in an effective, efficient, and responsible way.”
The bill provides a total of $622.1 million to federal agencies to fight the Zika virus and prevent it from spreading. If enacted, this funding would be available immediately for use over the next five months – the duration of the current 2016 fiscal year.
The legislation is fully paid for through offsets of existing funds, including unobligated and unspent resources left over from the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and from other unused administrative funding within the Department of Health and Human Services. Unlike the Administration’s request that allowed broad authority for federal agencies to spend these resources on a wide variety of programs without oversight, this legislation places tight controls and limits on spending, and specifies that funding can only be used to fight the Zika virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – The bill contains a total of $170 million for the CDC. These funds are primarily targeted to mosquito control efforts, Zika response and readiness in states and territories with heavy mosquito populations, enhanced laboratory activities, continued disease surveillance, international response, and public education. These funds can also be used for emergency preparedness grants to state, local, and territorial health departments that may have experienced reductions due to the redirection of their existing dollars to fight Zika.
Within the total for the CDC, the legislation allows up to $50 million for maternal and child health programs, targeted to states and territories that are suffering from Zika outbreaks. These funds are for pre-natal care, delivery and post-partum care, newborn health assessments, and care for infants with special health care needs related to Zika.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The legislation provides $230 million for the NIH. These funds will support pre-clinical and clinical development of vaccines to stop the spread of infection and prevent future outbreaks. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is currently investigating multiple Zika virus vaccine candidates, including vaccines based on technologies that have shown promise against other similar viruses. Funds will enable this work to be expedited.
Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – The bill includes $103 million for BARDA for fiscal year 2016. These funds will provide for research and development activities related to Zika, including the production and deployment of new rapid diagnostic tests and vaccines.
State Department/USAID – The bill provides $119.1 million for programs through the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fight Zika in fiscal year 2016.
This includes $100 million for Global Health programs. As insects know no borders, this funding will target international mosquito control efforts (“vector control”) to stop the spread of the virus at its source. In addition, these resources will support public information campaigns on mosquito population reduction and ways to limit exposure to mosquitoes.
In addition, $19.1 million is included for Operations within the State Department and USAID. These resources will cover operating costs and staff to manage and oversee Zika-related programs, coordination with foreign governments, public diplomacy efforts, distribution of information to travelers about the Zika virus, the State Department’s Office of Medical Services, and resources for at-risk U.S. citizens in Zika-affected countries.
Offsets – Every dollar in the $622.1 million legislation is fully offset. The bill repurposes approximately $352.1 million from leftover, unobligated funding from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and $270 million in unused administrative funding within HHS, to pay for the cost of these activities. The bill does not specify which Ebola funds to rescind, allowing the Administration to direct the reductions to lower-priority or unneeded funds.
Oversight – The bill includes strong oversight measures to ensure these funds are used to fight the Zika virus, and not for other purposes. The Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General of HHS and USAID receive $2 million total to maintain strict oversight and to report on the use of the funding provided. In addition, the legislation requires that federal agencies submit spending plans, and that they provide Congress with notification before funds are obligated. The legislation also reiterates existing, strong legislative protections against the use of funding for abortions.
For the complete text of the legislation, please visit: /uploadedfiles/05.16.16_zika_supplemental_appropriations_bill.pdf