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VIDEO: Rubio Urges Congress To Support Nelson-Rubio Legislation To Fully Fund Zika Response

May 12, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – In a Senate floor speech today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) discussed legislation he and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced today that will provide the full $1.9 billion requested by the administration to curb the spread of the Zika virus.
 
“I’m encouraged that in the last 24 hours, we finally seem to have found some action here in Congress in dealing with the Zika virus; as we now have not one but three proposals that are going to be introduced to deal with Zika, proposals that we’ll continue working on and debate next week,” said Rubio during a Senate floor speech.
 
“This is a devastating disease. It’s taken lives throughout our hemisphere. And the way it impacts unborn children alone should call us to action. Let’s deal with this now and protect our people. There’s no reason every proposal to address Zika cannot be bipartisan and earn broad support, and I’m hopeful we can reach a final outcome that fully addresses the problem. I’m hopeful that we will see some meaningful action on this Zika public health emergency very soon, including the American citizens in Puerto Rico who have been most impacted so far,” Rubio added.
 
“And that’s one reason why next week I plan to introduce, along with my colleague from Florida Senator Nelson, an amendment to provide the full $1.9 billion request to fight the Zika virus. The strain on Puerto Rico’s health system from Zika must be addressed, and this is the only proposal so far that tries to fully deal with the unique challenges Puerto Rico faces on the Zika virus,” Rubio continued.
 
“I hope we can find a way forward that deals with these issues fully, that helps us stop this disease in its tracks, and that saves lives. I urge my colleagues – in the Senate and in the House as well – to look at the proposal Senator Nelson and I will introduce, to offer their input, and ultimately to sign on and get this passed. Because as we know, it’s not going to be enough to see progress here in the Senate. We need the House to act as well. And I hope we can start doing that next week. We need to act. Zika is taking lives, it’s hurting unborn children, and this problem is only going to get worse as we move forward,” Rubio concluded.
 
The full transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below. A video is available here and a broadcast quality video available for download is available here.
 
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.
May 12, 2016
https://youtu.be/rWdFs5cY1lA
 
Senator Marco Rubio: “I’m encouraged that in the last 24 hours, we finally seem to have found some action here in Congress in dealing with the Zika virus; as we now have not one but three separate proposals that are going to be introduced to deal with Zika, proposals that we’ll continue to work on and debate next week.
 
“It was about five weeks ago that I met with federal, state and local health officials in Miami and came out in support of the president’s emergency funding request to deal with Zika.
 
“Since then, I’ve come here before the Senate on numerous occasions to call for action. I’ve stated my belief that there shouldn’t be anything divisive about this. Zika is a public health emergency that will, sooner or later, impact the vast majority of the United States – because this is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes that are only going to become more prevalent as the weather heats up. And because our people routinely travel to and from the island of Puerto Rico, the most impacted community in the entire United States.
 
“When I spoke here yesterday, the count of people infected in Florida stood at 109. Since then, just 24 hours later, it’s become 112 – 112 Zika cases is the most of any state in the Union. Of the three new cases in Florida, two were in Volusia County and one was in Orange County.
 
“I’ve said repeatedly that Congress should not allow politics to delay action on Zika. One issue we’ve been encountering is the desire to offset this spending. And I’ve made clear that if we can offset this spending, if we can find the money somewhere else in the budget to pay for what it’s going to cost to deal with Zika, we should do it; but that in times of public health emergencies, just like natural disasters, we shouldn’t delay acting while we figure out and try to agree on what we’re going to cut from other parts of the budget.
 
“Another issue we’ve encountered is whether we do this through the normal process that’s going on, or fund it as an emergency spending bill. Again, I’m open to either one of these approaches. But back in the real world, people infected by this and the families that have already been impacted by this, they don’t have time for us to figure it all out. They just believe, as I do, that we just need to get going here and get something done.
 
“I’ve said that we should deal with this issue fully and that, the $1.9 billion requested so far may not even end up being enough when all is said and done. But I believe that there is no one here wants to get caught in a situation where it’s August, and people are back in their states campaigning for re-election, and they have to scramble back here in the middle of the summer to come up with solutions when it gets hotter, when there are more mosquitoes, and when the conditions are ripe for more people to be impacted by Zika.
 
“And that’s why I commend others. I commend Senator Nelson, my colleague from Florida, I especially commend Senators Murray from Washington and Blunt from Missouri and others who are taking this seriously and they are trying to come up with a solution and a way forward.
 
“Because this is a devastating disease. It’s taken lives throughout our hemisphere. And the way it impacts unborn children alone should call us to action.
 
“Let’s deal with this now and protect our people.
 
“There’s no reason every proposal to address Zika cannot be bipartisan and earn broad support, and I’m hopeful we can reach a final outcome that fully addresses the problem. I’m hopeful that we will see some meaningful action on this Zika public health emergency very soon, including the American citizens in Puerto Rico who have been most impacted so far.
 
“And that’s one reason why next week I plan to introduce, along with my colleague from Florida Senator Nelson, an amendment to provide the full $1.9 billion request to fight the Zika virus.
 
“The strain on Puerto Rico’s health system from Zika must be addressed, and this is the only proposal so far that tries to fully deal with the unique challenges Puerto Rico faces on the Zika virus.
 
“I think it’s important to remind people who are asking themselves, “Why should we care about Puerto Rico?” Well, I would remind them that 4 million U.S. citizens live there. That the first American to lose their life to Zika lived in Puerto Rico. That Puerto Ricans routinely travel to the continental U.S. – to Florida and New York especially. And that these 4 million Puerto Rican citizens have no voice here in the Senate, and so I will make sure they are not forgotten as we work on solutions to this virus that has disproportionately impacted these Americans.
 
“And so, when we return next week to continue debating appropriations bills, I hope we can come together on this issue. I hope we can find a way forward that deals with these issues fully, that helps us stop this disease in its tracks, and that saves lives.
 
“I urge my colleagues – in the Senate and in the House as well – to look at the proposal Senator Nelson and I will introduce, to offer their input, and ultimately to sign on and get this passed. Because as we know, it’s not going to be enough to see progress here in the Senate. We need the House to act as well. And I hope we can start doing that next week. We need to act. Zika is taking lives, it’s hurting unborn children, and this problem is only going to get worse as we move forward.”