Congress can not agree on a budget but they did agree on a continuing resolution that contains funds for Zika. 8 months after the Obama administration requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds, Congress delivered $1.1 billion. During the interim, there have been 23,000 Zika cases confirmed in the US and its territories. The majority of cases are from Puerto Rico but over 3000 are from the 50 states. Those infections have resulted in 21 cases of microcephaly and infant deaths due to Zika.
To address the crisis, the Obama administration cannibalized other spending where it could, including Ebola vaccine research. The loss of funding will delay Ebola vaccine development. The $1.1 billion can be spent in the next fiscal year but some of the money will be needed to repay funds cannibalized from elsewhere. The emergency funds were supposed to be for the 2016-7 fiscal year. Congress missed that funding period entirely, and the $1.1 billion is still inadequate for the scope of the problem.
The fallout from Zika birth defects will be expensive, creating new health care demands in the future and is devastating for the effected families. The US was equally slow in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Too many politicians don’t recognize the importance of public health. Yes, the request for Zika is a large sum of money. In the long run, it pales in comparison to the costs of doing nothing.