Congress Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution and Funds Zika Response
On September 28, the House passed H.R. 5325 a ten-week continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the federal government through December 9, 2016 avoiding a shutdown.
H.R. 5325 or the Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika Response and Preparedness Act, funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and related Agencies through the end of FY 2017 and the remaining federal government programs at FY 2016 levels, minus a 0.5 percent across-the-board cut to remain within the sequestration caps, until December 9, 2016. The bill also includes $1.1 billion in emergency supplemental funding to combat the Zika virus. Specific funding programs of importance to the ASM include:
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will receive $152 million for “research on the virology, natural history, and pathogenesis of the Zika virus infection and preclinical and clinical development of vaccines and other medical countermeasures for the Zika virus and other vector-borne diseases, domestically and internationally”
- The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) will receive $387 million to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to Zika virus, health conditions related to such virus, and other vector-borne diseases…develop necessary countermeasures and vaccines, including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies…”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will receive $394 million for CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Zika virus, health conditions related to such virus, and other vector-borne diseases” Of the $394 million, $44 million will be returned to the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement program which has funded Zika outbreak activities so far.
The President is expected to sign H.R. 5325 and released a statement of Administration Policy on September 28.
The ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) has been working to counter the Zika virus outbreak by urging Congressional passage of a supplemental funding bill. Since February, ASM has communicated with Congress, met with appropriators and staff, collaborated with other public health and scientific organizations and engaged the ASM membership through a successful legislative action alert campaign on August 18. The ASM also held a one-day conference on June 1 at ASM headquarters in Washington, D.C. to stimulate basic research and bring together Zika researchers and scientists. ASM is taking great efforts to combat Zika.
Congress is expected to return after the November elections and will have until December 9 to address the remaining eleven FY 2017 appropriations bills.