Senate Dems block Zika deal

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Senate Democrats blocked a deal providing funding for the fight against the Zika virus. In a 52-48 vote, the Senate fell eight votes short of moving past a procedural hurdle against the House-Senate conference report on a military and veterans spending bill, which includes $1.1 billion to fund Zika virus research.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indianna) broke with his party and supported moving forward with the deal. Republican Sens. James Lankford (Oklahoma), Mike Lee (Utah) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky).

McConnell’s “no” vote allows him to bring the measure back up for another vote.

Tuesday’s vote leaves the fight over the Zika virus at standstill just days before the July 4th recess.

Democratic senators criticized the bill citing “poison pills” that they said made it difficult for their party to support the deal. The proposed legislation would take money from the fight against the Ebola virus to use in the fight against Zika.

The legislation also included language preventing funding from going to Planned Parenthood.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said the legislation is “the most irresponsible legislation I have ever seen in my 34 years in Congress.”

“I don’t know what planet my friend the Republican leader is living on,” he added. “The conference report is nothing more than a goody bag for the fringes of the Republican Party.”

The White House said President Obama would veto the legislation if it passed the Senate.

The next steps on the Zika legislation are unclear. Sen. Reid and other Democrats called for a new round of negotiations ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

“We are writing to urge your cooperation in quickly negotiating an agreement that rejects politicizing disaster response with extreme and unnecessary partisan priorities,” the Senate’s top four Democrats said in a letter to Speaker Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The House adjourned for the July 4th recess and Republican leadership have not signaled a willingness to rethink the current agreement

McConnell said lawmakers would vote on the Zika deal once senators return from the July 4th recess. “When we get back after we’ve had time to think about it all, we’ll address this matter again and hopefully respond, as our constituents all across America are asking us to respond, to this pending health care crisis,” he said after the vote.