U.S. House Democrats' Pelosi: administration may shift funds for Zika

August 11, 2016 10:34 AM EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a media briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Obama administration may announce as early as Thursday that it is shifting more money into fighting the Zika virus.

"Maybe today or tomorrow," Pelosi told reporters in a hallway on Thursday. She did not give an amount, but said, "I think they are going to try to do it a piece at a time, hoping that something else will happen," an apparent reference to the administration's request that the Republican-led Congress approve a funding bill to combat the virus.

The Obama administration in February requested $1.9 billion to fight the virus, which was first detected in Brazil last year and has spread rapidly in the Americas. Before going home on summer recess, lawmakers were discussing a $1.1 billion measure, but the bill stalled amid partisan bickering.

House Democrats at a news conference urged the Republicans to reconvene Congress to address the virus. Florida is grappling with at least 21 cases of locally transmitted Zika, and the Obama administration has already reprogrammed nearly $600 million to fight the virus.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will spend all of its remaining funds by the end of September, while two other agencies will exhaust their resources for Zika by the end of August, Representative Rosa DeLauro said.

Money will have to be shifted from biomedical research to fight Zika, DeLauro said. "If they don't, vaccine development will be stopped dead in its tracks," she said.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Jonathan Oatis)

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