Senate Democrats’ Partisan Politics Blocks Critical anti-Zika Efforts, Support for Troops
Troops ‘Democrats used to say that Zika was an imminent threat. Now they’re threatening to extend their filibuster of the funding we need to fight Zika and protect women’s health. Why? It’s seems clear enough. They think dysfuanction works well for them politically, so they’re trying to manufacture some regardless of who gets hurt in the process.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the Senate Democrats’ blocking anti-Zika efforts and support for our veterans:
‘Unfortunately, there are areas where our colleagues have blocked critical progress, on issues like Zika control funding and support for our veterans. Here was the headline in a newspaper this week, ‘Reid: Senate Dems will block Zika funding again.’ ‘[W]hich means,’ the article explained, ‘there will be no further avenues to pass a funding bill to combat Zika for the rest of the summer.’
“Democrats used to say that Zika was an imminent threat. Now they’re threatening to extend their filibuster of the funding we need to fight Zika and protect women’s health.
“Why? It’s seems clear enough. They think dysfunction works well for them politically, so they’re trying to manufacture some regardless of who gets hurt in the process. They’ve tried to muddy the issue with extraneous arguments and half-truths but they just don’t stand up to serious scrutiny. Let’s examine a few of the things they’ve said about this compromise conference report.
“Democrats pretend it would underfund Zika—actually it contains the exact same $1.1 billion in funding they just voted for last month.
“Democrats pretend it contains partisan offsets—actually the offsets have bipartisan buy-in.
“Two of the three offsets have explicit bipartisan support. The third takes unspent money that was set aside for health care in the territories — but cannot be used — and actually uses those funds for, get this, health care in the territories.
“Democrats pretend it would weaken clean water protections—actually it temporarily waives a duplicative paperwork provision that Democrats themselves call ‘unnecessary for the protection of our environment’ and a ‘waste of taxpayer dollars.’
“This temporary provision would only apply to pesticides already approved by the EPA, and it represents the only real way to commence with the kind of anti-mosquito efforts we need — efforts the EPA Director herself assures us are not only safe but ‘perhaps the most important tool we can use right now’— as a vaccine is developed.
“Democrats pretend it would prohibit funding or deny access for birth control—actually it provides more resources for health care, including preventive care, than the Zika bill Democrats voted for just last month.
“This compromise bill directs those health care dollars to the very places you’d expect, like hospitals, public health departments, Community Health Centers, and Medicaid. Democrats are now upset because a political supporter doesn’t get a special carve out, so they’re demanding an earmark for this partisan group as the cost of ending their attack on women’s health and their blockade of anti-Zika funding. Of course, Democrats would like us all to ignore the fact that the very same partisan campaign organization would not have been able to access these Medicaid funds in the president’s Zika request either.
“It’s hard to decide which of these excuses is the most disingenuous. Maybe it’s the false claim that this bill cuts funding for veterans — it actually increases veterans funding to record levels, by the way — just as Democrats are pushing a partisan proposal to provide political cover on Zika that actually would leave veterans funding behind.
“Democrats have a partisan interest in blocking critical anti-Zika funding. But Americans are asking them to please just put politics aside this time and think of the national interest. Does anyone seriously believe pregnant mothers care about manufactured squabbles over offsets and earmarks and duplicative paperwork? They want Washington to kill mosquitos, and do it now. They want to see a vaccine developed, and quickly. They want to see their unborn babies protected from a devastating virus that can have lifetime consequences.
“What they don’t want to see is one more manufactured partisan excuse from our colleagues. To quote the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, ‘Mosquitoes don't care about the budget process.’ She’s right. The time for games is over. This is our chance to pass anti-Zika funding, and there is only one way to do it: vote yes on the compromise Zika-control and veterans conference report before us and send it to the president.’
Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Zika Virus, Appropriations