President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion for the Zika virus response from Congress more than 200 days ago. Since then, the Republican-led Congress has failed to respond to the Zika emergency. Making matters worse, Florida Republicans like John Mica, David Jolly and Carlos Curbelo have either been complicit in their party’s partisan antics and they have waited too long to help Florida families who are enduring this public health crisis.
Florida Republicans have now blocked an up-or-down House vote on fully funding the Zika response eight times. Since President Obama’s request, there have been 16,610 confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S. The delay in Congressional approval on Zika funding is now more than 150 days longer than for the Ebola response.
While House Republicans refused to pass a Zika bill, John Mica stayed silent for months seemingly pretending the crisis didn’t exist, saying there was “more than enough money available” to fight Zika. After the House voted to break for a 2-month long recess, Mica never joined bipartisan calls for Congress to return to Washington and continues to repeatedly wrongly claim that President Obama’s administration already has the funds necessary to combat the virus.
Stephanie Murphy, former national security specialist and Democratic nominee running against John Mica, said the partisan gridlock on Zika funding is another clear example of what’s wrong with Washington.
“During my time at the Department of Defense, I helped coordinate efforts to address the bird flu outbreak in Asia that potentially threatened the United States, and I can tell you firsthand that it is both irresponsible and downright dangerous to play politics with viruses like Zika,” Murphy said. “Once again, I call on Congressman Mica to stop pointing fingers and to start leading on this issue.”
While President Obama originally requested $1.9 billion to combat Zika, the House version of the bill that was discussed only allocated $1.1 billion in funding. House Republicans also promoted a Zika bill that simply cannot pass in Congress because of political poison pills inserted into the legislation. The House Republicans’ Zika bill included provisions limiting access to birth control by restricting funds for Planned Parenthood as well as another provision blocking the ban on displaying Confederate flags at U.S. military cemeteries.
“Congressman Mica continues to join his obstructionist allies in playing politics instead of holding an up-or-down vote on the President’s request for emergency resources, and in the meantime, the Zika crisis continues to impact more and more Florida families,” Murphy added. “Expectant mothers and women are most at risk with the Zika virus, and I’m appalled at Republican attempts to strip away funding and resources that would help women in Florida deal with this health crisis. These partisan battles and gridlock are just more examples of what is wrong with Washington. Florida women and families deserve better.”