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Rubio: Playing Games with Zika is Heartless and Grossly Irresponsible

Sep 6, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is urging House and Senate Appropriations Committee members from both parties to fund the nation’s Zika response in the upcoming appropriations debate, and he released the following statement today after Senate Democrats blocked for the third time a vote on additional funding to fight the Zika virus:
“For the third time, Senate Democrats have blocked our efforts to give health officials and experts the resources they need to fight the spread of the Zika virus. If anyone thinks the Zika virus is some political game, they should take it elsewhere. We now have nearly 17,000 Americans infected with Zika and we know that mosquitoes in the continental U.S. are carrying it, but too many in Washington don’t seem to care. They’re being grossly irresponsible, and acting heartless toward the thousands of Americans in Florida, Puerto Rico and elsewhere who are suffering.
“From the beginning, I supported President Obama’s request for additional funding to fight Zika, and I have voted for every measure the Senate considered. Because of Democrats’ obstruction, it’s now necessary for Congress to ensure anti-Zika funding is included in whatever spending bill ultimately passes to keep the government open beyond this month.”
Tonight’s vote marked the 12th time Rubio has voted to move Zika-related legislation forward.
“[W]e cannot allow politics to get in the way of our health officials and experts combatting this growing public health crisis,” states Rubio’s letter urging for Zika action in the continuing budget resolution to fund the government beyond September 30. The letter was addressed to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY), and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also received copies.
“I continue to support supplemental legislation to fund the fight against Zika, but I am writing to urgently request that any legislation to fund the federal government beyond September 30, 2016, include additional resources for the ongoing effort to combat and hopefully eradicate this virus. Due to the unfortunate opposition by Senate Democrats, Congress has not passed additional funding for far too long and, in doing so, has failed the American people,” Rubio added.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden has said the agency will run out of funding to combat Zika by the end of September.
Last week, for the first time, mosquitoes in the continental U.S. were confirmed to be carrying Zika.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last week: 

  • “About half of the public (48 percent) say that they would be ‘not too’ or ‘not at all’ comfortable traveling to places in the U.S., like parts of Florida, where people have been infected with Zika by mosquitoes.” 
  • “Thirty-six percent of the public say that passing new funding to deal with the outbreak in the U.S. should be a top priority, with an additional 40 percent saying it should be an important but not a top priority.”