Senate Democrats have blocked the $1.1 billion plan to fight the Zika virus for a third time after Republicans sought to stop funding for pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood.
Lawmakers say they hope the issue will be resolved later this month as part of a bipartisan spending package.
The 52-46 vote came as Florida health officials announced seven more locally transmitted cases of Zika.
Florida has now reported 56 locally transmitted cases of Zika, which is often spread by mosquitoes.
Florida officials have called on lawmakers to release funds to help fight the spread of the disease, which is linked to severe birth defects in pregnant women.
The Republican-backed Senate bill included a provision that would have prevented Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico from receiving new funding to fight the spread of the Zika virus, which can be s**ually transmitted.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, said Republicans were “more interested in attacking Planned Parenthood” than “protecting women and babies from this awful virus”.
Democrats blocked similar funding measures in June and July before Congress left for the summer recess.
Before the vote, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed his Democratic counterparts: “It’s hard to explain why, despite their own calls for funding, Democrats would block plans to keep women and babes safe from Zika.”
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated that lawmakers will work to include funding for Zika in a budget deal or a continuing resolution that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it had spent nearly all of the $22 million allocated to the agency in the fight against Zika.
As of late August, there were more than 2,700 cases in United States and more than 14,000 in US territories, most of which were reported in Puerto Rico.
On November 27, 2015, staff at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado were forced to take cover after gunfire erupted outside their building. Over the course of the attack, a dozen people were shot. Three of the victims died, including one police officer and two civilians.
What kind of person could open fire on pregnant women, doctors, and police officers? A man with an exceptionally checkered past: 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear.
According to reports from The Daily Beast, Dear had many previous run-ins with police, including accusations of domestic abuse, stalking, leering, and animal cruelty.
In 2002, Dear was arrested on “peeping tom” charges. His neighbor, Lynn Roberts, “noticed Mr. Dear in the bushes by their house.” The police report reads: “Since March 2002, he has been leering at Ms. Roberts on a regular basis.”
In 2003, he was arrested for animal cruelty, suspected of shooting his neighbor’s service dog. The police report for that incident reads: “His dog was walking down the driveway when a shot was fired from [a] residence next to his and [the] dog yelped out and ran over to him.” The dog had been shot with a BB gun, but luckily survived.
Dear wasn’t convicted on either charge.
Previous to those arrests, police responded to a domestic dispute between Dear and his wife, Pam. According to the police report, Dear “took her keys from her and locked her out of their residence.”
“The victim then walked around the residence to gain entry through a window,” it continues. “The victim entered the residence and the suspect then hit her and pushed her out the window.”
Mrs. Dear didn’t file any charges against her husband or take advantage of Colorado’s domestic violence laws. She did, however, indicate that she “wanted something on record of this incident occurring.” The report also notes that she had bruises on her body. Mrs. Dear told police she got the bruises when Mr. Dear pushed her in the chest.
In 2004, another complaint was lodged against Dear, this time by his neighbor. The police report says Dear “told him that he was going to do bodily harm to him because the suspect thought the victim pushed his motorcycle over on the ground.” This was the same neighbor whose dog was found shot near Dear’s house.
The report also notes: “This is [an] ongoing problem between the victim and the suspect.”
Ozy Licano, who survived the shooting at the Colorado Spring Planned Parenthood center, described a terrifying moment when he encountered Dear as he was fleeing from the scene in his car. “He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting,” Licano told the Associated Press. “I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding. He was aiming for my head. It’s just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn’t win.”
Two civilians and a police officer were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in a nearly six-hour standoff on November 27, 2015.
Planned Parenthood is a healthcare non-profit-making group with 59 affiliates and 700 clinics around the United States and the largest single provider of abortion.
Its family planning clinics provide many other healthcare services including cancer screening.
Planned Parenthood dates back to 1916 when social activist and nurse Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control and family planning centre in Brooklyn, New York.
The group says each year 2.7 million people in the US visit its health centers for health care services and information. Abortion is among the services Planned Parenthood clinics provide, an issue that’s made the organization a target in the past.
Planned Parenthood has faced sharp criticism in Washington and from some Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail after an anti-abortion group released a series of videos alleging that the family planning clinic engaged in the selling of fetal organs and parts for profit.
The clinic has strongly disputed the videos and contended the tapes provide a distorted account because they are heavily edited.
At least three Planned Parenthood buildings have been vandalized since September.
In 2014, abortion providers in the United States saw 12 incidents of vandalism, one burglary, one invasion, one arson attack, one death threat and four stalking incidents, according to the National Abortion Federation.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Planned Parenthood affiliates were at the fore of many court fights to make abortion legal.