WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is meeting with the top four leaders of Congress ahead of a month’s-end deadline to fund the government or face a shutdown, and with money all but gone to address the worsening Zika crisis.
The White House meeting Monday afternoon is likely to focus on an emerging legislative compromise to address both issues. Long-sought provisions to provide money to deal with Zika look likely to be added to a must-pass spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 9.
Conservative opposition remains but negotiators worked through the weekend on the details. The Zika money has stalled since Obama first requested $1.9 billion in February, but congressional Republican leaders seem likely to jettison provisions opposed by Democrats restricting any of the money from going to affiliates of Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.
It comes as government scientists step up their warnings about the spread of the virus, which can cause devastating birth defects. More than 670 pregnant women in the states and Washington, D.C., have the virus, leading to the birth of at least 17 babies with microcephaly so far.