The House passed a bill Tuesday aimed at fighting the Zika virus, but it doesn't include any of the new funding that President Obama has asked for.
The House through a voice vote passed the legislation that adds Zika to the priority review voucher program administered by the Food and Drug Administration. The bill, which was passed by the Senate last month and now goes the president for final approval, doesn't provide any new funding for the outbreak, as Congress still hasn't acted on Obama's $1.8 billion emergency funding request.
The FDA's priority review voucher acts as an incentive to get drug makers to develop products for unmet health needs. A drug maker that develops a treatment for Zika, for which there is no vaccine or drug, would receive a voucher it could use for another drug to get faster approval from the FDA.
Such vouchers already exist for treatments for rare pediatric and tropical diseases and the Ebola virus. They have found to be profitable as the vouchers can be sold to other drug makers for big bucks, with some going for millions.
Republicans praised the bill.
"Soon to be law, this measure will make it easier to develop vaccines and treatments for patients, especially women and children," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. "We will continue to monitor the government's response and work to protect the American people."
Ryan mentioned the administration's decision late last week to redirect roughly $500 million in funding leftover from money already appropriated to fight the Ebola outbreak. Republicans have said that they would like the administration to use leftover Ebola funding before appropriating new money.
The White House has not issued a formal position on the bill.