A small cluster of Zika cases in Miami Beach had Florida health officials asking the federal government for funding assistance to contain a widespread outbreak of the virus, which causes severe, debilitating and sometimes fatal effects on the development of newborn infants.
Six cases were recently reported in the area, and they were traced to a species of mosquito active in the locale.
The Republican dominated Congress stalled on passing a $1.9 billion fund request made by President Barack Obama back in February. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and other leading health experts said they needed the funds as soon as possible and outlined a spending plan to respond to the Zika cases reported in the United States.
Instead of offering fresh funding, the House offered a $1.1 billion alternative which repurposes existing budgets from certain programs. In a game of political horseplay, the Republicans proposed a measure with provisions for cutting funds from Planned Parenthood and instituting the display of the confederate flag in cemeteries, which they knew would be rejected by their Democratic counterparts.
Florida Democratic senator Bill Nelson said 80 pregnant women in his state have been infected by Zika, putting their infants in danger of birth defects.
"It ought to be common sense that folks like me come to plead with our colleagues. Let's stop this monkey business," Nelson stressed.