Sen. Marco Rubio pressures Congress to act on Zika money

Money to go toward Zika research, developing a vaccine

MIAMI – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says that if Congress does not act now on Zika prevention funding, lawmakers may have to return to Washington later for an emergency vote.

Rubio and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo predicted Friday at a news conference that the Zika crisis will escalate over the summer if funding is not increased.

"Right now, they are basically operating on the funds they know they have available, which often times means they are contracting week by week," Rubio said.

President Barack Obama has requested $1.9 billion, but the Republican-led Congress has been unable to agree on an amount. The House previously agreed to setting aside $622 million, but the money would expire in September.

The money will go toward Zika research and developing a vaccine.

This is not political," U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo said. "There should not be an ideological debate about how to respond since to the Zika virus."

Florida currently has 162 Zika cases, the most in the U.S. Miami-Dade County alone has 50 cases and Broward County has 19.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is also pushing the Obama administration to increase funding for insecticides, spraying equipment and prevention kits.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."