Congress needs to quit wrangling over funding to fight the Zika virus so the United States can start doing proper mosquito control and accelerate vaccine research, Ron Klain, the nation's former Ebola czar said Wednesday.
The White House has requested $1.9 billion to fund Zika-related health initiatives. The Senate has proposed $1.1 billion, while the House is seeking to allocate $622 million.
The two chambers would have to reach agreement on a spending level before they can send it to President Barack Obama. The Senate will enter negotiations with the House with a strong hand: a bipartisan 68-30 vote in favor of the emergency funds to battle Zika, a virus that has been spreading rapidly through the Americas, with more than 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. state of Florida.
However, the conservative group Heritage Action is lobbying against any Zika funding bill that is not paid for with an equal amount of spending cuts.
"The most important problem is nothing has yet passed," Klain told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "The House has passed a bill. The Senate's passed a bill. They're in a conference committee. The mosquitoes are not going to wait for the conference committee."
With summer just around the corner, mosquito populations will become active, raising the risk the Zika virus will be transmitted within the United States, he said. U.S. cases have thus far been limited to people who were infected with Zika while abroad.