Congressional lawmakers started formal negotiations last week on Zika funding, but things aren’t moving fast enough for House Democrats.
Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee announced plans Tuesday to compel a floor vote on a bill fully funding the Obama administration’s $1.9 billion Zika request, Morning Consult reports. Led by committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey, members will begin gathering signatures Tuesday night on a discharge petition, a procedural move that would force a vote if enough members sign onto it.
Lowey is representing the Democratic caucus in bipartisan conference negotiations on Zika, but in a call with reporters explaining the discharge petition, Lowey did not seem optimistic about the talks. Roll Call reports:
She said that the House and Senate conference committee on Zika funding is continuing discussions on a compromise measure but that Democrats were discouraged by the first meeting and feel that a discharge petition may help spur action more quickly.
“We don’t have an agreement and there’s no guarantee any agreement we reach will pass muster with the Republican leadership,” Lowey said of the conference committee.
There’s also no guarantee House Democrats will be successful using the discharge petition, a move The Washington Post has noted rarely works. They need to gather 218 signatures—or an absolute majority of the House—but Democrats only occupy 188 seats in Congress. Their Republican colleagues have not been amenable to the Obama administration’s request so far, so there’s little indication they will join plans to force a vote on the funding.