Senate Must Pass Critical Veterans Funding, Anti-Zika Efforts
‘This legislation is the last chance we have to get Zika control funding to the president’s desk for weeks. We should pass it to protect those especially at risk, like pregnant women and babies. We should pass it to help prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses…We know that blocking this bill would mean preventing critical anti-Zika funds from moving one step closer to becoming law. But here’s what else it would mean: blocking critical funding for our veterans, our serviceme
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need to advance important bipartisan funding measures to address Zika and support veterans:
“We’ve all heard Democrats warn that we, quote, ‘…cannot delay any longer’ on Zika control funding. We’ve heard them warn that, quote, ‘[E]very day we wait…is increasing the risk that we will have problems with Zika.’ We’ve even heard them warn that, and I quote, ‘The mosquitoes are not going to be on recess...’ But now, as we’re about to vote on a bicameral compromise — which reflects the $1.1 billion funding level that Democrats already unanimously supported — they’re threatening to block this Zika control money.
“The Democratic Leader yesterday went so far as to say that his members ‘have no choice’ but to oppose it. He and our friends across the aisle can try to come up with a line of excuses as to why they are blocking funding to address the Zika crisis and blocking support for our nation’s veterans, but here’s what it all boils down to: partisan politics.
“They might like to pretend this Zika control measure is ‘woefully inadequate,’ but Senate Democrats are all on record supporting this level of funding, and the CDC director has testified that this $1.1 billion funding level is sufficient ‘to do the things we need to do in the immediate term.’
“They might like to pretend this Zika control measure walks back clean water protections, but that’s false too — it actually contains a temporary, targeted compromise to promote mosquito control as long-term solutions like a vaccine are developed.
“They might like to dust off the ‘War on Women’ playbook too, but this Zika control measure actually provides more resources for women’s health services through community health centers, public health departments, and hospitals.
“It’s puzzling to hear Democrats claim to be advocates for women’s health measures when they are the ones trying to block this Zika legislation and its critical resources to protect women's health. ‘Zika virus infection during pregnancy,’ the CDC has said, ‘can cause a serious defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.’
“So today Democrats have a choice: continue pushing thinly-veiled partisan arguments and block this Zika control funding — or join with us to advance a serious solution and send critical funding to the president’s desk now.
“Remember, this legislation is the last chance we have to get Zika control funding to the president’s desk for weeks. We should pass it to protect those especially at risk, like pregnant women and babies. We should pass it to help prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. We should pass it to help keep Americans safer from this public health concern in the midst of mosquito season.
“We know that blocking this bill would mean preventing critical anti-Zika funds from moving one step closer to becoming law. But here’s what else it would mean: blocking critical funding for our veterans, our servicemembers, and their families.
“These men and women voluntarily serve in our armed forces in order to protect our country and freedoms. They don’t ask for much, but we ask so much of them. That’s why we must meet our commitment to them by passing this veterans and military construction funding measure as soon as possible. It will increase critical resources to help ensure veterans receive health care and benefits they rely on. It will improve quality of life on military bases for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their families. And it will support critical national security projects like missile defense.
“It’s a bipartisan measure that earned the support of both Democrats and Republicans when it passed the Senate. So let’s work together to pass it again today.”
Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Health Care, Zika Virus, Appropriations, Veterans