NATIONAL. Congress skips town with a long list of unfinished business (The Washington Post)

By Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian

Congress started the month with a long to-do list, but it left town Thursday for seven weeks with most of it unfinished.

The House and Senate on Thursday wrapped up business for the summer without finalizing legislation to combat the Zika virus, addressing the recent string of gun violence or making significant progress toward completing this year’s budget work.

In what has become a familiar ritual, Democrats and Republicans pointed the finger at each other over who is to blame. It’s a gamble by leaders in both parties that voters will hold the other side accountable for gridlock come November.

The issue drawing the most attention is the failure to provide funding for efforts to combat the Zika virus, which causes birth defects and has spread through South America and the Caribbean.

The House and Senate both passed bills to provide the funding, but a bipartisan deal on a final package could not be struck. On Thursday, Democrats for the second time blocked a $1.1 billion funding package arguing it contains “poison pill” measures, such as restrictions on Planned Parenthood, and is paid for by ill advised cuts to other federal health programs.

The legislation passed the House last month without support from Democrats...

Public health groups chided Congress for the lack of action.

“The spread of Zika virus has created a public health emergency that needs to be addressed now,” Chrissie Juliano, director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, said in a statement. The group represents public health departments.

 

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