Appropriations Democrats Offer Amendment to Provide $1.9 Billion Emergency Funding for Zika Response

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Washington, DC, April 13, 2016 | comments
As Congress returns from the spring recess, I am proud to cosponsor an amendment with my colleagues, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey and Labor-HHS Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, in support of the President's request for supplemental funding. Although the Republican leadership has refused to consider the Administration's request, I'm committed to ensuring women and children have access to the resources they need at home and abroad to combat this disease, including research into a vaccine, education campaigns and comprehensive family planning resources. It is time for Congress to join together in solving public health crises like this one and time for Republicans to stop sticking their heads in the sand.
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Watch a video clip of Rep. Wasserman Schultz's remarks during the Appropriations Committee Markup by clicking this link.

 

Appropriations Democrats Offer Amendment to Provide
$1.9 Billion Emergency Funding for Zika Response

Emergency Funding Would Enable Robust Response At Home and Abroad to Protect Pregnant Women, Babies, American Communities

Majority’s Inaction “Unconscionable”, “Shameful”, “Unacceptable”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) today offered an amendment to the FY2017 Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill to provide the Administration’s $1.9 billion emergency supplemental funding request to mount a robust domestic and international response against the Zika virus.

“At a time when the Zika virus is spreading dangerously, and the federal government’s most senior public health experts tell us the virus is “scarier than we initially thought,” it is unconscionable for Congress to continue sitting on its hands, said Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey.  It is shameful that the Administration was forced to redirect funding from other health priorities – including the deadly Ebola virus – in order to meet immediate and urgent needs.  We do not have the luxury of responding to either Ebola or Zika – we must do both.”

“Unfortunately, we have yet to hold a hearing on the Administration’s request for an emergency $1.9 billion appropriation to face the Zika threat. Instead the administration was forced to rob nearly $600 million from the response to one public health crisis – Ebola – to respond to Zika. This is dumbfounding. The Ebola crisis is not over. Let me be clear: these funds are being directed away from other critical and threatening global health risks and are being repurposed only as a last resort – not because it is the right thing to do from a policy perspective. Still, it is less than one-third of the President’s emergency request. It is unacceptable that in the midst of a global health crisis, we cannot appropriate emergency funds to save lives,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.

“For months, our nation has watched in horror as the Zika virus has spread through the Americas and  increasingly affected our own nation, especially my home state of Florida, which leads the nation in confirmed Zika virus cases,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “As Congress returns from the spring recess, I am proud to cosponsor an amendment with my colleagues, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey and Labor-HHS Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, in support of the President's request for supplemental funding. Although the Republican leadership has refused to consider the Administration's request, I’m committed to ensuring women and children have access to the resources they need at home and abroad to combat this disease, including research into a vaccine, education campaigns and comprehensive family planning resources. It is time for Congress to join together in solving public health crises like this one and time for Republicans to stop sticking their heads in the sand."

The Administration requested $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding to respond to the Zika virus.  Due to Congress’s failure to act on this request and the urgent need for immediate funding, the Administration last week redirected $589 million from other health and international development projects for Zika priorities, including $510 million intended to fight Ebola in West Africa.

The Lowey-DeLauro-Wasserman Schultz amendment would protect Americans through mosquito control, ensuring the safety of the blood supply, enhancing lab capacity and surveillance efforts, developing more advanced and accurate tests for Zika, vaccine development, and further research to enhance understanding of Zika.

The majority voted down the Lowey-DeLauro-Wasserman Schultz amendment in a party-line vote by replacing it with a substitute amendment making all unobligated Ebola funding eligible for Zika use.  During debate, Democrats pointed out that taking this action would mean depriving critical long-term Ebola priorities of funding.  Further, it would provide no new money to respond to public health threats threatening Americans.  Existing funding the Administration reprogrammed from Ebola to Zika will run out prematurely in the middle of the summer (high season for mosquitoes), and is not enough to finish clinical trials for a Zika vaccine.

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