Scott lauds Zika money after frustrating wait

Gov. unclear how much money Florida will receive

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After making two lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., and authorizing $61.2 million in emergency state spending, Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is glad Congress reached agreement on a $1.1 billion initiative to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

"It's great that Congress finally passed the Zika bill," Scott said in a phone conference with reporters after the U.S. House and Senate voted on the measure Wednesday. "This is all about pregnant women and making sure that they have healthy babies."

Scott said he was frustrated that lawmakers, who grappled with the issue for months, did not authorize the Zika money more quickly.

"Not one person said they were against it. But nothing happened time and time again. It was the craziest thing. It just shows you why people are so frustrated with the incompetence of Washington," Scott said.

The governor said it was unclear how much money Florida would receive from the federal initiative.

Scott said he would ask for the state to be reimbursed for its $61.2 million in emergency Zika spending, including his proposal for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to match the state's $25 million for vaccine research.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's office said $933 million of the federal funding will go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including $394 million to the CDC for mosquito control and surveillance.

Another $397 million is slated for the National Institutes of Health for vaccine and diagnostic development.

"Florida has been fighting Zika for months, and the number of infections continues to rise," Buchanan said. "I'm hopeful the president will sign this bill quickly so Florida communities can start using these resources as soon as possible."

As of Thursday afternoon, Florida had 932 Zika cases, including 92 infections of pregnant women, according to numbers posted online by the state Department of Health.

The virus can cause severe birth defects.