House passes narrow Zika measure designed to remove red tape
WASHINGTON– The House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that makes it easier for state and local governments to spray pesticides to kill mosquitoes and stop the spread of the Zika virus.
“Even though the pesticides used to spray mosquitoes are already federally and state approved, ridiculous EPA regulations make it harder for local governments to get the permits they need to kill mosquitoes near sources of water where they breed,” House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, said in a statement after the votes.
The measure, dubbed the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015,” passed with mostly Republican votes, 258-156.
The bill does not authorize any new money, and the House and Senate are still at a stand-off over how much additional federal funding Congress will approve for federal agencies to use to fight Zika. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion package, but the House approved a smaller $622 million bill and talks between the two chambers continue.
“We’re having very productive talks on that front,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Tuesday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, criticized Republicans, saying the vote was a way to “provide political cover” for the GOP which has not voted on President Barack Obama’s full $1.9 billion request to address Zika.
He also noted that the last time the House GOP scheduled a vote on the same proposal it failed, and this time they re-packaged it as a plan to fight the new virus.
“House Republicans might as well bring this bill to the Floor and rename it the ‘Making Pesticides Great Again’ Act, because in truth it would remove virtually all federal oversight concerning the use of chemical pesticides to ensure they do not end up in our water supply,” Hoyer said in a written statement.
Both the House and Senate are scheduled to leave for a weeklong Memorial Day break at the end of the week and multiple congressional aides admit they don’t expect a deal on the Zika funding bill before the recess.