Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson declared Monday that the Senate is close to another Zika deal, and expressed urgency that this one needs to go through cleanly.

“I am here to share with the Senate that I think we have finally found a path forward to fund the fight against Zika,” Nelson announced on the Senate floor this afternoon.

“The specifics are still being worked out,” Nelson said. “But it seems that there will be a deal and we will soon be able to move forward on doing what we tried to do last summer, which is fund the crisis that we know as the Zika crisis.”

This deal, like one the overwhelmingly Senate passed in June, is for $1.1 billion worth of funding, according to his office. He said the effort aims at stripping away highly-partisan provisions that led to the last deal’s death in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I can tell you that the people in Florida are pretty agitated,” told the Senate in his floor speech. “I’ve been there the last two weekends, and I can tell you, it’s the number-one issue on their minds. So, the fact that some of our Republican colleagues — particularly down in the House of Representatives – are willing to put on the Zika funding bill ridiculous riders and insist on that now for three votes. Let me take you back.”

Nelson said there are 756 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida including 84 pregnant women, who risk catastrophic brain birth defects in their children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports 571 case, including all 43 cases reported to have been contracted locally, most likely through bites by infected mosquitos in Miami.

The CDC also reports 15,600 confirmed cases in Puerto Rico, almost all of the locally contracted.

“The CDC is estimating that there are four people walking around with the virus for every one that we know,” Nelson said.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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