D.C. Report: Rep. Tom Cole joins group backing funding option to fight Zika
By RANDY KREHBIEL
World Staff Writer
Week ahead: Congress is in recess until after Labor Day.
Zero for Zika: Fourth District Rep. Tom Cole was among six Republicans — three representatives and three senators — to ask President Barack Obama to “repurpose” previously appropriated funds to combat the Zika virus.
Their request came after Congress failed to agree on a $1.1 billion emergency appropriation to fight the disease.
Republicans want to fund the Zika fight from Affordable Care Act accounts and by cutting off payments to Planned Parenthood and other programs they don’t like.
Senate Democrats have filibustered the legislation, causing both parties to claim the other is trying to use the situation for political gain.
In their letter to Obama, Cole and the others say the president has been slow to utilize $589 million originally set aside for Ebola to research and combat Zika.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe was also upset about the situation, but for a different reason — the Zika funding was attached to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.
The Senate easily passed an earlier version of the bill, but Senate Democrats have blocked the more recent version because of changes made by House Republicans.
“This will be the legacy of the past seven years,” Inhofe said. “Democrats using our military as their negotiating tool to get their way with federal spending.”
Dots and Dashes: Shepherded by Cole, the spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and other related agencies made it through the full House Appropriations Committee. The draft bill includes $161.6 billion in discretionary funding — a reduction of $569 million from the current enacted level and $2.8 billion less than requested by the Obama administration. ... U.S. Sen. James Lankford spoke twice on the Senate floor Thursday, once to encourage racial interaction and once to slam the Obama administration’s 1-year-old nuclear arms agreement with Iran .... Cole’s attempt to use the Interior appropriations bill to clarify ambiguities involving Indian trust land was shot down by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.
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