WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – President Barack Obama has vowed to veto a bill providing more than $1 billion in relief for victims of the Zika virus, in part because it would deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood.
Media attention in the House of Representatives has centered on Democrats' high-decibel sit-in, demanding additional gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando terrorist shooting by fundamentalist Muslim Omar Mateen.
Early Thursday morning House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, reconvened the chamber and voted to grant $1.1 billion in relief to Zika-stricken areas. A previous bill had allocated only about half that much, drawing a veto threat from President Obama.
The bill – which passed at 2:30 a.m. Thursday – stated that none of its funds may be used by Planned Parenthood or other international family planning organizations.
The nation's leading abortion provider, and congressional Democrats, have argued that Zika victims need contraception and abortion-on-demand to avoid giving birth to children infected with the virus.
“House Republicans' constant claim that they’re out to ‘protect the unborn’ falls flat when this bill undercuts the very protections women need to bear healthy children,” agreed NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue after the vote.
In February the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan, said that nations that do not allow the full range of “sexual and reproductive health services” are contributing to the spread of the deadly condition – an apparent reference to the many Latin American nations that legally protect the lives of the unborn.
That drew a swift rebuke from dozens of Republican congressmen, including many who voted for the Zika bill on Thursday.
The pro-life amendment is one of several that President Obama said will cause him to veto U.S. aid to the disease-stricken global poor.
On Friday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Erick Schultz called the bill “woefully inadequate” and “a political exercise.” If it passes the Senate “and the president was presented with the bill, he would veto it,” he said.
Democrats also objected that the House version of the bill offsets $750 million of the billion-plus price tag, reallocating funds originally earmarked to combat Ebola and another $543 million in unspent funding for ObamaCare.
House Republicans found themselves at odds with Democrats over another method for fighting the Zika virus. In May, the House passed the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” (H.R. 897) – which would allow the easier use of EPA-approved pesticides to kill mosquitoes – by a vote of 258-156, just one week after Democrats had blocked the bill through another vote. “Communities need to have all the tools necessary to fight the Zika virus, and this common-sense bill removes costly and unnecessary EPA red tape so these new Zika funds can be spent most effectively killing mosquitoes and finding a vaccine for this deadly virus,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
House Democrats worried about the environmental impact of spraying on the ecosystem.
A modified version of the bill was incorporated into the Zika bill.