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Florida Senators Split On Failed Vote To Advance Zika Funding Bill

David Maiolo
MGN Online/CC BY-SA 3.0

Florida now nearly to 230 cases of the Zika virus, and that number continues to climb. With Florida’s first baby born with a Zika-related birth defect, some are weighing in on a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate Tuesday to advance a House bill aimed at fighting the mosquito-borne disease.

On a 52-48 vote, the 1.1 billion dollar Zika funding bill failed to get the 60 votes needed for approval in the Senate. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was among the Senate Democrats who blocked the proposal.

“We need to stop playing these political games,” he said, on the Senate floor. “It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it.”

Nelson is referring to language contained in the House proposal that reverses a ban on flying the Confederate flag in military cemeteries. Critics say it also cuts funding for birth control services provided by Planned Parenthood.

“It cuts money for family planning,” Nelson added. “The CDC has confirmed that Zika can be sexually transmitted. What did I say? They cut money for family planning, and that there are over 480 pregnant women in the U.S. that are presently being monitored for signs of the infection.”

While Nelson voted against the measure, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) supported it. In a statement, Rubio said the Zika bill wasn’t perfect and didn’t go far enough, but it’s “absolutely better than nothing.”

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.