The threat of the Zika Virus on Americans is very real. Travelers returning from the worst hit areas have carried the virus to 45 states and Washington, DC. This has led to 935 confirmed cases in the USA (with another 2,000 cases in our outlying territories of Samoa, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands). It seems the time for our government to step up and help prevent, manage, and eliminate this threat has arrived.
The monies that President Obama budgeted for combating the Zika Virus are stuck in a deadlocked Congress. The President points out that “We have not seen the House and the Senate come together in a sensible way to put forward the dollars that we have requested that have been budgeted to get the job done.” A version of the bill was already voted down in the Senate when Republicans tacked on riders to prevent funding of Planned Parenthood. Senate Democrats couldn’t abide the revisions. According to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, “They got together and put every poison pill in that bill that Democrats couldn’t consent to. They took Zika hostage.”
The US House of Representatives will be in session after a holiday weekend that was probably filled with arguments over whether or not ketchup belongs on hot dogs, if America the beer is piss water or not, and how many fireworks it takes to paint the sky with freedom (answers: it does, it is, ALL OF THEM). The session will be a short week before the long summer break. That summer break is when Zika Virus is going to do the most damage to Americans.
President Obama, the CDC, and health experts are asking for approval on the $1.9 billion that will develop vaccines, allow for better tests, fight the mosquitoes, and help take care of babies born with devastating Zika-linked birth defects.