The White House is trying to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) persuade Congress to provide an extra $1.9 billion in Zika control funding.
The House rejected an Obama administration Zika funding request in February, and Bloomberg reported last week that Republican congressional leaders said they were going over a revised CDC funding proposal carefully to see if more funds are needed.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, a CDC official, said today at a White House press conference that the mosquito that carries the Zika virus has been spreading faster than the CDC expected and is already in at least parts of 30 states, up from 12 a few weeks ago.
Mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus to people in Puerto Rico, and Schuchat said officials fear the virus could cause hundreds of thousands of infections, and hurt hundreds of babies.
The CDC has said it will shift $589 million in Ebola funding to the Zika fight.
House leaders have said in a statement that they are happy to see the Obama administration using existing funding to fight Zika. Republicans argue that the CDC should go through the regular funding process for the Zika fight, rather than going through an emergency funding process.
“More than a month ago we called on the administration to use existing funding and legal authorities to provide the most immediate and effective response to the Zika outbreak,” House Republicans say in the statement. “We are pleased to hear today that federal agencies are heeding our call. These resources — which the agencies already have on hand — will help stop the growth of this devastating disease around the world, and prepare for and protect against outbreaks within our borders.”