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VIDEO: Rubio: Inaction On Zika Virus Is Inexcusable

May 11, 2016 | Press Releases

Rubio: “My hope here is that very soon, and I mean in the next couple of days, we can bring before this body a way forward on this issue that brings both parties together that deals with this public health crisis in a responsible way.” 

Washington, D.C. – In a Senate floor speech today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continued to urge Congress to take action in combatting the Zika virus. He reiterated the need for federal funding in dealing with the issue while warning that the virus is a real threat to all Americans and must not be politicized.

“But here’s what I hope we won’t do. I hope that we will not politicize this,” said Rubio. “Zika is not a Republican issue or Democrat issue. It shouldn’t be a campaign issue, although I promise you it will become one if we have a Zika outbreak in the United States and we’re back home doing our constituent work, not here voting. And people are going to want to know, ‘why did you do nothing on this issue? You knew it was coming. It was clearly broadcast and predicted. All the indicators were there and nothing happened.’ 

“Inaction on this is quite frankly inexcusable,” Rubio continued. “And I don’t believe voters will excuse us for refusing to act on this. But it shouldn’t be a political issue. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be used for one party to beat up on the other. I hope that we can take — there are so many other issues we could have that fight over, not on this. Not where real lives, real people are at stake. 

A partial transcript of Rubio’s 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
May 11, 2016
https://youtu.be/wFNS53NL6kI

Senator Marco Rubio: “This is a looming public health crisis. This is the situation that we are facing now in this country, and the time to act has come. The moment to act has come. Because right now, we are facing in this body and here in Washington, D.C., a debate about this issue, about how much money we’re going to spend on it. 

“The President has proposed $1.9 billion to deal with it. About $500 billion of that is designed to pay back the Ebola funding that has been used in the short term to fill in the gap. But the rest of it is for real programs that go into dealing with this issue and particularly dealing with it on the island of Puerto Rico that has been disproportionately impacted by this. 

“When I hear people say there hasn’t been any cases of Zika transmitted in the United States, they’re wrong. The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens. They travel to this country extensively. It is our responsibility to also fight and care for them in this process. 

“It is just a matter of time before someone contracts Zika through a mosquito bite here in the United States and we have not prepared for it. Localities and states are doing the best they can with their limited resources, but they do not have the comprehensive resources that the federal government can bring to bear. They don’t have the resources for research that the federal government can bring to bear. They don’t have the ability to deal with it at the ports of entry the way the federal government can. 

“And so these are important priorities that I hope we will move on. Now, in the last few hours, I’ve heard encouraging reports that there are a number of efforts going on behind the scenes here in the Senate, at least one of them in a bipartisan way to begin to address this issue. And over the next few hours we’ll meet with different stakeholders and others who are engaged in this issue to see if we can come up with a way forward. 

“But here’s what I hope we won’t do. I hope that we will not politicize this. Zika is not a Republican issue or Democrat issue. It shouldn’t be a campaign issue, although I promise you it will become one if we have a Zika outbreak in the United States and we’re back home doing our constituent work, not here voting. And people are going to want to know, ‘Why did you do nothing on this issue? You knew it was coming. It was clearly broadcast and predicted. All the indicators were there and nothing happened.’ 

“Inaction on this is quite frankly inexcusable. And I don’t believe voters will excuse us for refusing to act on this. But it shouldn’t be a political issue. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be used for one party to beat up on the other. I hope that we can take — there are so many other issues we could have that fight over, not on this. Not where real lives, real people are at stake. 

“And so my hope here is that very soon, and I mean in the next couple of days, we can bring before this body a way forward on this issue that brings both parties together that deals with this public health crisis in a responsible way. And let me say, look, we’re running a debt in this country. And so there’s a way to pay for it and I believe there can be a way to pay for it, I’m all for it. I have ideas about how we can come up with some of that money. We can find $1.4, $1.5, $1.9 billion to cut somewhere to pay for this. And I think we should endeavor to do so. 

“But even if we cannot, we should never allow the inability to agree on how to pay for it to stand in the way of addressing a public health crisis that threatens to become a public health catastrophe. I prefer that we pay for it. I am for it, but I’m not going to let that stand in the way – objection to that – stand in the way to addressing this issue. 

“So through all the other issues we are debating up here, from presidential campaigns to water projects, I still do not believe that we have given sufficient intensity, urgency or attention to this burgeoning issue that threatens the safety and security of our people. So, Mr. President, it’s my hope that over the next few hours and days, we can come forward in a bipartisan way with a way forward and we’ll continue to work to address that and achieve it.”