The Obama administration has chosen some of the most painful cuts possible to pay for anti-Zika efforts, including AIDS research, home heating assistance used by the vulnerable elderly and funds to fight drug addiction.
The administration said it made “difficult” decisions” based on “emergency needs,” though Republicans say there is more than enough money in the budget for the Health and Human Services Department to cover all of its functions and still fund Zika vaccine trials.
With the number of mosquito-borne cases in the U.S. reaching 30 on Monday, the amount of money dedicated to Zika — and the sources of that money — are quickly becoming political issues.
Democrats insist Republicans will be blamed for shortchanging anti-Zika efforts, even as HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell siphoned $81 million from the National Institutes of Health and other department initiatives to bolster Zika vaccine trials.
In a statement, HHS itself said $34 million in NIH money was “cut directly” from programs to fight those diseases, while the remaining $47 million would otherwise “go to states to treat people with HIV/AIDS, fight substance abuse and to help low-income families heat their homes in the winter.”