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White House to Divert Ebola Funds in $589M Push to Fight Zika

The Obama administration will take $589 million in existing federal funds — most of which were intended to combat the Ebola virus — and spend the money instead on fighting the spread of the Zika virus.

The move, which federal officials described as a stopgap measure, came after GOP congressional leaders refused to provide $1.9 billion in emergency funds to limit transmission of Zika in the United States and abroad. In a conference call with reporters, the officials said they would reprogram $510 million in Ebola funds and $79 million in other resources to prepare for and respond to Zika.

“These repurposed funds are not enough to support a comprehensive Zika response,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan. The government was compelled to take the step because without it several key initiatives “would have to be delayed or curtailed or stopped within months,” he added. “We cannot wait for the fall.”

Donovan said lawmakers were acting recklessly by refusing to grant the administration’s request to support activities including mosquito control and vaccine research.

“We should not play with fire here,” Donovan said. “We want to be clear that Congress needs to act immediately. We cannot wait.”

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