Obama urging Congress to compromise and come up with a better bill to fight Zika

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Friday, July 8, 2016

WASHINGTON (WABC) -- With only one week until congress goes home for the summer. The White House is urging lawmakers to compromise on a plan to fight Zika virus.

There have been 320 reports of pregnant women infected with the virus which has been linked to birth defects. The CDC warns the number of cases could grow over the next few months.

President Obama wants a bi-partisan funding plan passed before lawmakers recess.

"The vast majority of these pregnancies have not yet come to term. Those that have come to term are those with infections occurring later on in pregnancy, when we believe the risk of birth defects and microcephaly is lower," said CDC Director Tom Frieden. He added that seven infants so far have been reported to have been born alive but with birth defects and five pregnancies have been lost, with birth defects.

"And while they don't know how many babies had been born from these pregnancies," he emphasized that they have seen infants who are apparently normal at birth and go on to develop neurological disorders.

Travel associated Zika cases in the U.S. and DC are now more than 1,130 and 14 of these cases are thought to have been sexually transmitted, but so far no cases of mosquito-local transmission.

Frieden called the virus a "silent epidemic" because 4 out of 5 infected don't have any symptoms.

Senator Chuck Schumer said that the bill the House did pass was not a true showing of bipartisanship since they planned it in the dead of night and filled the bill with poison pills, pointing to the diverted Medicaid money from Puerto Rico and Planned Parenthood.

"We supported a compromise bill that wasn't everything we needed but was a lot better than nothing," Schumer said of the $1.1 Billion the senate passedl. "This is not a time to play political games."

Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Kathy Castor from Florida explained that in Florida there were 11 new cases of Zika just announced Wednesday.

And while Republicans in Congress say that the administration hasn't even used the money they have already reallocated, Frieden explained that the money has begun going out and must work its way through the federal steps. "Can't push a button" to distribute the funding immediately.