This report by Susan B. Epstein and Sarah A. Lister was posted on 20 May 2016 by the Congressional Research Service: Zika Response Funding: Request and Congressional Action.
The second session of the 114th Congress is considering whether and how to provide funds to control the spread of the Zika virus throughout the Americas. Zika infection, primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes, has been linked to severe birth defects and other health concerns. Local transmission of the Zika virus has occurred in American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is expected on the U.S. mainland this summer, in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are present.
On February 22, 2016, the Obama Administration submitted a request for more than $1.89 billion in supplemental funding to respond to the Zika epidemic, all of which is requested as emergency discretionary appropriations and therefore effectively exempt from spending limits per the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). The emergency request includes $1.509 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), $335 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $41 million for the Department of State. The request also seeks authority to transfer some of those supplemental emergency appropriations across other federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to allow greater flexibility as circumstances change. It also would provide HHS, the Department of State, and USAID with broad authority for direct hiring, not be limited to positions related to Zika response efforts, and would authorize personal services contracting by HHS, State and USAID, for the Zika virus, but not limited to Zika virus efforts.
On April 6, 2016, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Secretary of HHS announced that they had identified $589 million—$510 million of it from “existing Ebola resources within the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of State/USAID”—that can quickly be redirected and spent on immediate efforts to control and respond to the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas.
On April 8, 2016, the Administration notified Congress of a transfer of $295 million out of the $510 million from FY2015 unobligated Ebola Economic Support Funds (ESF) to be used for the Zika response efforts. Of that amount, USAID is providing $158 million to CDC including $78 million for Zika response and $80 million for Ebola response. The remaining $137 million also from FY2015 ESF is funding various USAID activities for its Zika response efforts.
As of mid-May 2016, congressional action on supplemental appropriations for Zika-related purposes has occurred in both the House and the Senate. The Senate action occurred with regard to an amendment to the combined FY2017 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills (S.Amdt. 3900); that amendment provides $1.1 billion, which would be available until September 30, 2017 (some until expended). House action has occurred with regard to a stand-alone supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 5243); this bill provides $622.1 million for Zika funding, which would be available until September 30, 2016. Rescissions are included, but it is currently unclear how much they would offset the $622.1 million without CBO scoring. Nearly half of the funds are designated as emergency funding.
This report will identify the various Zika response funding options and track legislation in the 114th Congress.
Enjoy the report!
"The winter is the most wonderful thing that was ever invented for public health, and we are losing it." - Dr. Paul Epstein, Harvard University