CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act, 2016, under a closed rule. H.R. 5243 was introduced on May 16, 2016, by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and was referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
H.R 5243 would appropriate $622.1 million for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, to strengthen public health activities in response to the Zika virus. Specifically, H.R. 5243 would appropriate:
These funds would be made available from the rescission of previously appropriated amounts that are unobligated – $352.1 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2015 (P.L. 113-235) for Ebola response and preparedness and $270 million from the Nonrecurring Expense Fund of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, these funds are only available for obligation if the Secretary of HHS (for Title I funds) and the Secretary of State or USAID Administrator (for Title II funds) notify the Committees on Appropriations in writing at least 15 days in advance of such obligation. This requirement may be waived if failure to do so would pose a substantial risk to human health or welfare. The aforementioned Secretaries must also provide a report no less than 30 days after enactment to the Committees on Appropriations on the proposed use of the funds. This report would be updated and submitted every 30 days until all funds have been fully expended. Funds totaling $2 million are also set aside for the Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General of HHS and USAID for oversight purposes.
The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn child, and has been linked to serious birth defects. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil, and on February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.
On February 8, 2016, the Obama Administration submitted a request for more than $1.89 billion in supplemental funding to respond to the Zika epidemic. The Administration’s request included $1.509 billion for HHS, $335 million for USAID, and $41 million for the Department of State. After House Appropriations Committee chairs called on the White House to use existing Ebola funds to fight Zika, on April 6, 2016, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of HHS announced that they had identified $589 million that can quickly be reprogrammed and spent on immediate efforts to control and respond to the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas.
This legislation would appropriate an additional $622.1 million to aid in these efforts. The funds in part come from the rescission of unobligated balances in the Nonrecurring Expenses Fund (NEF). The NEF was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2008 (P.L. 110-161; Sec. 223 of Division G). The unobligated balances of expired discretionary funds appropriated for FY 2008 or any succeeding fiscal year from the General Fund of the Treasury to HHS are transferred into the NEF. The amounts in the NEF are available for capital acquisition necessary for the operation of HHS.
The remaining funds appropriated in H.R. 5243 would come from the rescission of unobligated appropriations from Title IX of Division J and Title VI of Division G of the Consolidation Appropriations Act for FY 2015 (P.L. 113-235). These two titles appropriated funds to HHS, USAID and the Department of State for Ebola response and preparedness.
The bill appropriates $622.1 million offset by rescissions of a like amount, for a net cost of zero. An official Congressional Budget Office estimate is unavailable, but unofficially CBO has said the bill has a net zero cost in new budget authority.
For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.