Congress’s Failure to Fund Zika Response


They are coming my friends,

they are coming to get us next!

Can you believe that there still are people in this country

that will vote this congress back into office?

What makes a person willingly


knowingly want to suffer for at least two more years

and not only that


willing to take their




family members


and friends

down that road with them?

In February,

the White House asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency money


to help fight the Zika Virus.

Today July 7th and your congress is still playing politics!

Republican answer to

the ZIKA Fund

must still be.

If you are poor,



This past February,

the Obama administration requested a $1.9 billion appropriation for federal activities to combat the dangers of the Zika virus,

a mosquito-borne virus believed to increase the likelihood of microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers.

(Zika has also been tied to other negative health outcomes for humans,

but Zika is a recent enough public health issue that scientific data are still being collected.)

Congress has not taken action on the president’s request,

and Democratic legislators and the White House see Republicans playing politics with a public health crisis in the making.

“That’s a significant problem, particularly when you consider that there’s no good reason that Congress hasn’t acted,”

Obama Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“And the opportunity to get ahead of this potentially serious situation is washing away. And that’s a significant problem.”

In late February, the White House asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency money to stem the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which at the time had been tentatively linked to birth defects in South America. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that the virus does cause birth defects, including microcephaly. More than 2,600 people in American states and territories have been diagnosed with Zika. As of June 16, federal health officials were tracking 481 cases of pregnant women who appeared to be infected.

Now, with mosquito season upon us, and despite evidence that a potentially calamitous health crisis could be around the corner, Congress has yet to provide money for a serious response. Indeed, some Republicans initially dismissed the threat and irresponsibly suggested that the government simply repurpose funds already earmarked to combat Ebola.

Then, last week, the House approved $1.1 billion in Zika funding, but with restrictions that Senate Democrats found deeply objectionable. Under the bill, only public health departments and Medicaid-run clinics would receive Zika funds to provide contraception and maternal care. Private health centers, including Planned Parenthood, would be ineligible.

That would create significant barriers to services for women in Puerto Rico, where the virus is spreading most quickly. Only 12 of the island’s 78 municipalities include a Medicaid-run clinic. The same problem will limit access to care in Southern states, which are expected to be affected.

On Tuesday, Senator John Cornyn of Texas denied that the House had intended to prevent Zika money from going to Planned Parenthood, which Republicans have sought to undermine for years. He challenged anyone to find the words Planned Parenthood in the explanatory text that accompanied the House bill. The words do not, in fact, appear, but the intent of the restrictions is perfectly clear, and also reckless. So far this year, four babies have been born with Zika-related defects in the United States. That number could grow sharply in the coming months.

If it does, Americans will demand to know why the government failed to confront the crisis. Besides contraception and maternal care, the government intends to spend money on developing a vaccine, spraying for mosquitoes and helping other countries affected by the virus.

Given the urgency of the matter, it is not asking too much of House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to agree on a generous bill without unjustifiable restrictions. Allowing the crusade against Planned Parenthood to get in the way of protecting the public is inexcusable.

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