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Rubio Reiterates Need For Congress To Address Growing Zika Threat

Apr 26, 2016 | Press Releases

Rubio: “I don’t think a disease of this magnitude, with this level of risk is one that we should be playing games with. And so my hope is that cooler heads will prevail and that over the next few days we will find it within ourselves to find how to appropriate the necessary money so we can begin to deal with this.”

Washington, D.C. – In a Senate floor speech today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continued to urge Congress to address the growing threat of the Zika virus.

Rubio first announced his support for the $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus during a press conference in Miami earlier this month following a briefing with state, local and Puerto Rican officials and health experts. He stressed the importance that taxpayer money only be spent on programs to combat the Zika virus.‎

Also earlier this month, Rubio took to the Senate floor to highlight new Zika developments and address the seriousness of the virus.

A partial transcript of Rubio’s full remarks is available below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video is available for download here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Floor Speech
April 26, 2016
https://youtu.be/UHFv_l1AYJE

Senator Marco Rubio: “The President has asked for $1.9 billion in funding and I am generally supportive of that request. I believe we need to deal with these issues on the front end, as quickly as possible.

“What we don’t want to do is wake up one morning to the realization that you’re now in the middle of summer, this has become an epidemic or catastrophe and we didn’t do anything on the front end and everyone here’s going to have to explain,  ‘You know, what was your position at the time?’

“But I also think you can be for Zika funding, you can even be for Zika funding at $1.9 billion and you can also ask questions about, ‘how is this money going to be spent?’ And if possible, ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ Because we are facing a debt situation in this country, and I believe we can find $1.9 billion to pay for [it]. I’ve suggested some of my own.

“But, what we don’t want to do is play political games with it. And I think it’s important. On the one side you can’t just say, ‘Look, I’m against anything that comes up that they’re asking for unless you prove otherwise.’ I think it’s important that we now admit that this is a serious issue that needs to be confronted. But I think it’s also not obstructionist to ask, ‘Well, how is the money gonna be spent, what programs are gonna be funded, where is the prioritization going to be?’

“I think it’s not too much to ask to have a level of detail about those $1.9 billion. What I am concerned about is some of the reports in the news that there’s games being played with this. You know, we’ve now heard news that the Administration has redirected $44 million in emergency preparedness grants promised to state and local governments this summer.

“Oftentimes in politics, this is a very typical maneuver. What you do is, you cut money from an organization somewhere and you blame it on congressional inaction, or in the states, on legislative inaction. And you say to them, ‘The reason why you’re losing this money is because someone’s not doing what we want.’

“And so you find the most painful, alarming cuts and you use them as a leverage point to get pressure built on Congress. So I want to make sure that that’s not part of some game. We shouldn’t be playing games with this.”

Senator Marco Rubio: “I don’t think a disease of this magnitude, with this level of risk is one that we should be playing games with. And so my hope is that cooler heads will prevail and that over the next few days we will find it within ourselves to find how to appropriate the necessary money so we can begin to deal with this.

“At least on the front end, maybe there’s a chunk of money on the front end so we can begin to address it. And then we can come back later and fund the rest of it.

“And I think it’s incumbent upon the Administration and others to say, ‘This is what the money’s going to be spent on,’ so that we can judge whether the money and the funds are actually going to things that work.

“But this needs to happen, this problem can’t wait. And it shouldn’t be a partisan fight

“Combating Zika is an appropriate use of public dollars. It’s an appropriate use of public dollars. I am for limited government. I am for a very limited federal government, but one of the things the federal government is tasked with is keeping our people and our country safe particularly from external threats.”