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House Passes $1.1 Billion Zika Defense Bill, Amid Guns Sit-In

House GOP leaders will hold a vote early on a spending bill that includes $1.1 billion in Zika funding over the fierce opposition of Democratic leaders. The vote – which will be one of several to come – is expected to begin according to a GOP leadership aide.
The spending bill cleared the House Rules Committee. With no Democrats present, the hearing adjourned after about six minutes after all Republicans who attended voiced support for the bill.
The hearing had been announced less than two hours prior as Republican leadership scrambled for their next steps during the chaotic floor action.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions opened the hearing with no mention of the Democrat’s protest, which included several flagrant violations of House chamber rules including photos and videos live from the floor.
“I want to appreciate the evening of long work,” Sessions said during the late-night mark-up.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have threatened to oppose the GOP’s deal, which was unveiled just hours earlier.
The GOP’s bill comes short of the $1.9 billion requested by President Obama – and only about $400 million is new funding.
A total of $750 million has been shuffled from other government healthcare funds, including ObamaCare and Ebola.
Republicans had planned to file their bill, with a vote. But even before the deal was officially unveiled, it was soundly rejected by Democratic leaders.
“It is clear that once again, Republicans have put political games ahead of the health and safety of the American people, particularly pregnant women and their babies,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest wrote in a statement, details were formally released.
The sharp divisions over the Zika funding bill have been months in the making. Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Hal Rogers and his House GOP colleagues have been firmly opposed to supplying the full $1.9 billion requested by President Obama to fight the virus, calling it the equivalent of a “blank check.”