Reuters | White House finds temporary fix in Zika funding fight
The White House said on Wednesday it will redirect $589 million in funds to prepare for the Zika virus before the mosquito that carries it begins to emerge in the continental United States, but urged Congress to act quickly on its request for more money.
White House budget director Shaun Donovan said the use of money previously provided for fighting another health crisis, the Ebola virus, was only a temporary fix for Zika funding.
Donovan said some measures to fight Zika would have to be delayed, curtailed or stopped unless the U.S. Congress approves more than $1.8 billion in emergency funds requested by the Obama administration in February.
The Zika virus, linked to a growing number of cases of the birth defect microcephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean and heading north as the weather gets warmer.
"We should not play with fire here," Donovan told reporters on a conference call.
Without full Zika funding, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said mosquito control and surveillance may have to be delayed or stopped, vaccine development could be jeopardized and development of faster diagnostic tests could be impaired.