Senate Democrats Block Support for Veterans, Anti-Zika Efforts

‘So here we are going into the 4th of July, [Senate Democrats] impeded the passage of funding to deal with an impending public health crisis, and in the same vote managed to vote against veterans as well.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding Senate Democrats voting to block important bipartisan funding measures to address Zika and support veterans:

“Here's where we are, we have a public health crisis descending on our country. We've been talking about this for three months. The Administration, the CDC—all involved said we need to get this Zika funding bill done before the 4th of July.

“This conference report, which was just prevented from passage, has exactly the same funding level that every single Democrat voted for when it left the Senate—exactly the same funding level.

“We know that if we don't get this job done, we won't have a vaccine within a year and a half, and in the short term, we've been told that the single most effective thing we can do is kill as many mosquitoes as possible as fast as possible right here in the United States in the southern part of our country.

“And so here we are in an utterly absurd position, of playing political games, as this public health crisis mounts here in our country. Pregnant women all across America are looking at this with dismay, utter dismay. As we sit here in a partisan gridlock manufactured by the other side over issues that it's pretty hard for the general public to understand, refusing to pass the funds needed to address this public health concern.

“If that were not bad enough, we've also stopped the passage of the MilCon/Veterans Administration appropriations conference report—funding for our veterans, funding for construction at military bases. So here we are going into the 4th of July, we've impeded the passage of funding to deal with an impending public health crisis, and in the same vote managed to vote against veterans as well.

“So I say to my colleagues on the other side, that's where we'll be when we come back here after this brief break for the 4th of July. I've moved to reconsider—I changed my vote and moved to reconsider—and I'd like to call on my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to think about this, to think about where they have left this issue for the American people.

“I've been approached in my state, and you know others have as well, from young women concerned about whether we're going to address this issue now—not sometime in the future. And so when we get back after we've had time to think about it all, we'll address this matter again and hopefully respond, as our constituents all across America are asking us to respond, to this pending health care crisis—that we all understand. There's been plenty of discussion about this for months.

“This Republican Majority has met the deadline, but we can't pass it by ourselves here in the Senate. I hope that our Democratic friends upon reflection over the course of the few days we'll be away to come back with a different attitude and I hope that we can address this crisis and address it now.”

Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Health Care, Appropriations, Veterans