Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Democrats Want $1.9 Billion For Zika Virus, But No Travel Restrictions


President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Congressional Democrats want Republicans in Congress to approve $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus through research, prevention, and health care in the U.S. and internationally. 

"My foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of Americans," Obama wrote in a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI). "This request supports the necessary steps to fortify our domestic health system, detect and respond to any potential Zika outbreaks at home, and to limit the spread in other countries."

The Zika virus pandemic that has afflicted much of Latin America and the Caribbean is most likely to gain a foothold in the continental U.S. through Florida this summer.




"So far, every one of those infections has been related to travel — people went to Central and South America, were bitten by infected mosquitos there, and came home with the virus," wrote Clinton on Medium.  

"But we’re likely to see people become infected without leaving the United States — both because there is evidence that Zika can be sexually transmitted, and because mosquitos in this country will likely start spreading Zika as the weather gets warmer." 

According to a recent NASA study, Florida cities have the heaviest amount of travelers arriving from countries where the Zika virus has become pandemic in combination with the longest mosquito season in the United States. Those two main factors have made the Sunshine State the likely ground zero for a local transmission outbreak of the Zika virus. 

"As a Floridian, it is unconscionable to me that House Republicans have failed to act on the Zika virus,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz  (D-FL) in a statement. “Florida has the most confirmed cases of Zika virus in the continental United States, and further south, Puerto Rico has more than 500 confirmed cases of Zika.”

But like the Ebola virus, none of the Democrats are calling for restrictions on travel from countries Zika infested regions.

“The most effective way to stop the spread of this virus is to find a cure,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) said.

Republicans point out that $589 million has already been appropriated to combat the Zika virus and that Democrats have failed to detail how an additional billion dollars would be spent.


“It doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that this is a request for a blank check without regard for the accountability,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX).

Democrats do have support for the $1.9 billion funding from U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott is scheduled to meet with members of Congress next week to ask for emergency funding.