Congress returned from a seven-week vacation and landed in the same predicament regarding emergency funding for Zika prior to their break.
According to The Huffington Post, one frustrated congressman, Florida Rep. David Jolly (R), returned to the floor with a jar full of mosquitoes. His state is one of the many states that have reported cases of the Zika virus. Holding the jar, he said, “Can you imagine, colleagues, the fear and anxiety in this chamber if these 100 mosquitoes were outside this jar, not inside this jar?”
His reasoning was that he wanted to scare the lawmakers with the mosquitoes, the way they scare his constituents.
The virus is a continually growing problem around the world as well as the United States. In the States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already reported 35 cases of the virus. Many people who have left the country have acquired the disease before returning home.
The Senate has been unable to agree on a new $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus. The virus is mosquito-borne, sexually transmittable, and can cause serious birth defects if pregnant women contract the disease among other severe problems.
The Obama administration tried obtaining $1.9 billion in emergency funding to battle the virus. The Senate compromised for $1.1 billion instead, but Republicans attached provisions targeting Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, and the Clean Water Act to the bill. Democrats rejected it and now both sides continue to blame each other for the standstill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was unmoved by this gesture, accusing the Senate of playing games. When asked about the bill, Ryan stated in his weekly press briefing in Washington, D.C., “Give me a break on this thing.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, believes Ryan isn't understanding the urgency of the situation. “So when the speaker says give me a break…no let’s give the babies a break. Let’s pass this bill,” Pelosi said.
Democrats and Republicans are polar on their views of this bill, but Florida Republicans are beginning to side with the Democrats, recognizing that they are all wasting time arguing about the bill.
“It is not good enough to work on a compromise for months and month and months with no solution,” Jolly said. “The time for the politics of Zika is over. The politics of Zika are garbage right now. The fact that candidates are going to spend money on commercials about Zika instead of responding together in a bipartisan, bicameral way in a divided government to a health crisis that Americans understand—we are wasting time. That is why I’m joined by these mosquitoes today.”
As these congressmen continue to argue, the virus continues to spread. Many remain hopeful that the bill will be agreed on and funding can finally be used to help combat the virus.
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