GOP, Dems close to compromise on Zika funding

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Republicans in Congress may be ready to act on funding for the fight against the Zika virus. (WPVI)

Republicans in Congress may be ready to act on funding for the fight against the Zika virus.

A senior Senate Republican said Thursday a bipartisan measure to partially fund President Barack Obama's $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus will soon get a vote.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said the proposal, still a work in progress, is likely to be attached to an unnamed spending bill on a Senate floor.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the powerful committee said significant progress has been made toward a compromise to fund research on a vaccine against Zika and efforts to battle its spread.

Obama requested $1.9 billion in February. Republicans controlling Congress responded by pressuring the administration to transfer unspent funding provided in 2014 to battle Ebola.

The administration reluctantly transferred almost $600 million in previously appropriated funds to take on Zika, but says more money is still needed.

Meantime, in Florida there are plans to test genetically modified male mosquitoes.

They'd mate with female wild mosquitoes which can carry Zika, but their offspring would die.

Tests in Brazil reduced mosquitoes infected with Zika by 80 percent.

The Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

It is spread by mosquitoes and sexual contact, and is likely to spread more aggressively as mosquito season looms.

The Senate is taking the lead in developing the Zika funding measure.
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