(Senate - May 17, 2016)

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[Pages S2835-S2845]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2016

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of H.R. 2577, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2577) making appropriations for the 
     Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban 
     Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending 
     September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.


       Collins amendment No. 3896, in the nature of a substitute.
       McConnell (for Lee) amendment No. 3897 (to amendment No. 
     3896), to prohibit the use of funds to carry out a rule and 
     notice of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
       McConnell (for Nelson/Rubio) amendment No. 3898 (to 
     amendment No. 3896), making supplemental appropriations for 
     fiscal year 2016 to respond to Zika virus.
       McConnell (for Cornyn) modified amendment No. 3899 (to 
     amendment No. 3896), making emergency supplemental 
     appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016.
       McConnell (for Blunt) modified amendment No. 3900 (to 
     amendment No. 3896), Zika response and preparedness.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 12:30 
p.m. will be equally divided between the managers or their designees.
  The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, as we begin consideration of the fiscal 
year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations 
bill, I want to start by thanking the chairman of the subcommittee and 
his staff.
  The process Chairman Kirk and I put into place was fair, inclusive, 
and open, and I appreciate that he went out of his way to incorporate 
input from me, my team, and Senators from this side of the aisle.
  This bill does right by our brave service men and women by honoring 
our Nation's commitment to veterans, Active-Duty military, and their 
families. We owe these folks our gratitude for their selfless sacrifice 
to freedom and democracy.
  As a result of last year's bipartisan budget agreement, we are on the 
same page this year in terms of top-line funding numbers. This level of 
funding has allowed us to make critical investments in military 
construction, veterans programs, as well as Arlington National Cemetery 
and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
  For VA, this bill provides $102 billion in mandatory funding for 
veterans' benefits--$102 billion--and includes an additional $103.9 
billion in fiscal year 2018 advance funding to ensure that there is not 
a lapse in getting disability compensation and education benefits to 
our veterans.
  For VA's discretionary accounts, including the Veterans Health 
Administration, the bill appropriates $74.9 billion. That is $3.4 
billion more than the Department has this year. Within that amount, we 
are able to target increased funding for several key priorities for 
veterans. That includes health care, disability claims and appeals 
processing, medical and prosthetic research, and family caregiver 
support. That means the VA will be able to aggressively pursue critical 
veteran-centered research into a host of medical conditions, including 
PTSD and traumatic brain injury--the unseen wounds of war that are so 
difficult to both identify and treat. It also means the VA will have 
additional resources to meet the growing demand of caregivers who are 
providing critical, family-centered, long-term care for our veterans, 
and it will allow VBA to hire 300 new claims processors and 240 
additional employees for the Board of Veterans Appeals, all focused on 
reducing the appeals backlog--something Senator Sullivan and I are 
working on over on the authorizing side. These funds will complement 
that work.
  The bill before us also includes a new medical community care account 
that consolidates the various sources of funding that connect veterans 
to care in their own communities. The creation of this new account is 
extremely important in providing better oversight over a program that 
is critical for our veterans, particularly those in rural areas where 
services through the VA are often unavailable. It is also a key 
component in ongoing efforts to consolidate and streamline the number 
of different programs the VA has to get veterans care in their local 
communities. That is something a number of us are working on in a 
bipartisan manner in the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
  On the MILCON side of the ledger, the bill before us also delivers. 
We have provided increased funding for a number of unfunded MILCON 
requirements identified by the services. Given the severe constraints 
on the budget, funding for military construction is squeezed more 
tightly now than ever. It is not just the cost of trying to maintain a 
deteriorating building, which in itself is substantial, it is also the 
impact that effort has on training, readiness, and retention of 
personnel--the very areas DOD is struggling to reinforce.
  Shortchanging military construction is not a cost-effective or 
sustainable defense strategy over the long haul. That is why I am glad 
this bill provides nearly $500 million over the budget requested for 
unfunded priorities.
  I am pleased the majority chose not to put forward controversial 
amendments on this bill during committee consideration. The bill that 
funds veterans health care and our military installations should not be 
a vehicle for politics. Our veterans and our servicemembers deserve a 
clean bill, so we need to avoid the ugly stuff on this bill.
  I have a lot more to say about this bill as it is considered over the 
next, hopefully, several days. For now, I reiterate my thanks to the 
folks on the majority side, as well as Vice Chairman Mikulski, for 
their efforts in getting us where we are today.
  Lastly, I remind all of our colleagues that we are open for business. 
So if there are amendments you are thinking about, get them filed and 
get them to our staffs so we can move forward. Amendments at the 
eleventh hour are never good, so get them in early so we can consider 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

      President's Policy on Transgender Access to School Bathrooms

  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, since Friday, my State and DC offices have 
been flooded with calls from concerned constituents regarding President 
Obama's latest unilateral action directing public schools and colleges 
to allow transgender kids into the bathrooms and locker rooms of their 
choice. In Oklahoma, we understand what this is all about. This is all 
about a liberal agenda being crammed down the neck of Oklahoma and the 
rest of the country.
  On Sunday, I went to a church service near the Grand Lake area in 
Northeastern Oklahoma, where the nearest community has about 250 
people. The pastor, whose name is Mark, said, ``If ever there were a 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego moment in America, it is now.''
  They understand that there is a real battle going on in Washington 
for our values. These values should be decided at the local level by 
the parents and teachers who truly understand what needs to take place 
to protect all kids.
  He went on to say that ``we have to embolden our school board members 
[and other politicians] with our support.'' I agree. This is why I put 
forth a bill last year, which passed last year, to empower local school 
authorities to make these kinds of decisions. What the President is 
doing is unilaterally redefining title IX of the education law that 
prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. With the new guidance he 
has issued, Obama is aiming to prohibit anything that could be 
construed as discrimination against ``gender identity, including 
discrimination based on a student's transgender status.''
  Ultimately, the President is demanding, under threat of losing 
significant public assistance--in my State of Oklahoma, this amounts to 
about $450 million--if States and school districts don't comply. In 
other words, it is blackmail: You comply or you lose something you are 
entitled to.

[[Page S2836]]

  By rewriting the law, President Obama has decided, without any input 
from Congress, that local schools must accommodate a very small segment 
of the population in a very specific way by allowing them to use the 
bathroom of their choice. By blackmailing our schools with funding that 
goes to low-income and special needs kids--money which schools are 
already entitled to receive--the Obama administration is writing its 
own laws to punish those who disagree.
  As the pastor said this weekend, ``We should not sell out the 
innocence and the safety of our children'' as a condition for receiving 
Federal money that helps those who need it the most. In fact, he went 
on to say: We just will not accept it. We don't need to accept it. It 
is not worth the price we would pay.
  This misguided policy is directed at the comfort of a microminority 
at the expense of the comfort, privacy, and safety of the majority of 
students who do not want to expose themselves or be exposed to another 
student of a different sex.
  As Oklahoma's attorney general, Scott Pruitt, has noted, the 
administration's letter ``definitely changes the law in that it takes 
the unprecedented step of redefining `sex' to mean 'gender identity.' 
'' Furthermore, he states that the President's actions ``are unlawful'' 
and that they represent the ``most egregious administrative overreach 
to date'' and that Oklahoma ``will vigorously defend the State's 
  I fully support Oklahoma and other States that are vowing to fight 
this undemocratic edict from a politician who is no longer accountable 
to the voters. Oklahoma's parents, schools, and State and local boards 
are best equipped to deal with the issues they face in the classroom 
and on school grounds and should not be dictated to from Washington.
  Our Nation's schools should not be ground zero for social experiments 
from the liberal agenda, and this is exactly what is happening now, but 
it doesn't take an Attorney General or a U.S. Senator to come to these 
conclusions. I thank God that basic morality is ringing out from the 
pews, not just in Northeastern Oklahoma but throughout America.
  You are doing the Lord's work, Mark. Keep it up.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time spent in a 
quorum call before 12:30 p.m. today be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, as a mother and a grandmother, I know 
that one of the most frightening questions an expecting parent has to 
ask their doctor is, ``Is my baby safe?''
  Too many parents are asking that question right now because of the 
Zika virus. There are now more than 1,200 reported cases of Zika in the 
United States and the three territories--more than 100 of these are 
pregnant women--and on Friday, Puerto Rico announced its first case of 
Zika-related microcephaly.
  Unfortunately, those numbers are only expected to grow in the coming 
months. So this is an emergency, and public health experts have 
repeatedly made it clear that as we get closer to the summer and to 
mosquito season, we cannot afford to delay. We need to better control 
mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. We need to raise awareness to 
make sure families are informed about this disease, and we need to 
expand access to family planning services and accelerate the 
development of a vaccine. The President laid out a strong emergency 
funding proposal to accomplish each of those goals in February.
  I support that plan. I was very disappointed that instead of acting 
on it as quickly as possible, my colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle simply refused to even consider it. Instead, they found reason 
after reason to delay. First, they said the administration should take 
funds from the ongoing Ebola response to combat Zika. Then, they said 
they needed more information about the President's proposal, even 
though Zika has been discussed in 55 congressional hearings, even after 
briefings by senior administration officials, and even though the 
administration's 25-page proposal had been available for months for 
anyone to see.
  House Republicans have released a proposal that would provide a very 
meager $622 million, less than one-third of what is needed for this 
emergency, without any funding for preventive health care or outreach 
to those who are at risk of Zika, and they are still insisting in the 
House for the funding for the offset.
  In the face of all of that partisanship and inaction and with public 
experts making it clearer every day how much we need to act before 
mosquito season is in full effect, I was encouraged that Chairman Blunt 
and others on the Appropriations Committee were willing to work with 
Democrats on a first step to respond to this emergency. The agreement 
we have reached would put a down payment on the President's proposal 
into the hands of our first responders and researchers right away. It 
would provide much needed relief for Puerto Rico, backfill nearly $100 
million in essential public health funding that the administration had 
been forced to reprogram, invest in prevention and support services for 
pregnant women and families at home and abroad, and put research 
dollars into developing a vaccine.
  I believe the Republicans should do what we have urged them to do for 
months and join Democrats in supporting the President's full emergency 
funding request. But if they continue to refuse, then at the very 
least, they should be willing to support a bipartisan first step toward 
protecting families from this virus, and Democrats will continue 
pushing for every necessary resource going forward.
  Families across the country are looking to Congress for action on 
Zika. They do not have time for lengthy debates about offsets, and they 
don't have more time to wait. So I hope we can move very quickly to get 
this emergency funding package through the Senate and the House and 
onto the President's desk. If we act now, we can help protect our 
families across the country from the truly tragic consequences of this 
disease, and there is no reason to delay.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, for months Democrats have asked the 
Republicans who control the Senate to let us act, while the Zika virus 
has spread across South America, Central America, and several U.S. 
territories. For months, we have asked the Republicans who control the 
Senate to let us act, while more and more American travelers are back 
in the United States after contracting the Zika virus. For months, we 
have asked the Republicans who control the Senate to let us act, while 
health experts at the World Health Organization, the National 
Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention have begged Congress for the resources to fight this 
disease. For months, we have asked Republicans who control the Senate 
to let us act, while more people infected by Zika have developed a 
debilitating and sometimes fatal condition that damages the nervous 
system. For months we have asked the Republicans who control the Senate 
to let us act, while more mothers infected by Zika have given birth to 
babies with severe brain defects. And for months, we have asked the 
Republicans who control the Senate to let us act, while the President 
has been forced to divert emergency funds from other critical areas, 
including the emergency Ebola response.
  Today, months after President Obama first requested nearly $2 billion 
to fight the Zika virus in the United States, the Republicans who 
control the Senate will finally let us vote on options for funding the 
Zika response.
  Today the Senate will consider three proposals. The first proposal 
would completely fund the President's response plan. It offers our best 
hope to fully protect Americans, and I will vote for that proposal. I 
plead with every Senator to do the same because that is

[[Page S2837]]

what our Nation's experts have said it will cost to limit the sickness, 
death, and deformity caused by the Zika virus.
  I know that some Republicans understand this point. Senator Rubio, 
whose State of Florida is at great risk for local transmission of Zika, 
recently said this:

       I believe in limited government, but I do believe one of 
     the obligations of a limited Federal Government is to protect 
     our people from dangers, whether they be foreign enemies or 
     the risk of disease outbreak. . . . I don't think we want to 
     be halfway through the summer and wake up to the news that 
     hundreds and hundreds of Americans in multiple States have 
     been infected and we did nothing.

  Senator Rubio supports fully funding the President's response plan. I 
hope it passes the Senate. If it doesn't, it will be because the 
majority of Senate Republicans vote against it. If that happens, we 
will be forced to consider another proposal.
  The second proposal would give the President half of what is needed 
to fight the outbreak. I will support this proposal if that is the last 
resort, as will many Democrats, because this is a health emergency. If 
your ship is sinking and you need 12 lifeboats but you can only get 6, 
you take the 6. We will take whatever the Republicans who control the 
Senate are willing to give to protect the American people.
  Cutting the Zika funding request in half might give Republicans a 
chance to tell people how tough they are on spending, and that may be 
how Republican politics works, but it is not how science works. It is 
not possible to delay a response to a health emergency for month after 
month without consequences. It is not possible to nickel-and-dime a 
response to a health emergency without consequences. Sure, the 
Republicans' half measure is better than nothing. But an estimated 4 
million people are facing the prospect of Zika infection by the end of 
this year, and a half response is not good enough.
  The final Republican proposal is even dumber. It would not only give 
the President about half of what is needed but it would cover the cost 
by gutting the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides 
significant support to local public health departments all across the 
country. You heard that right. Some Senate Republicans think the best 
way to fund America's emergency response to the Zika virus is to rob 
from America's frontline responders who help identify and track 
infectious diseases such as the Zika virus.
  On the other side of Congress, House Republicans are kicking around 
an even more bizarre idea--funding only about one-third of the 
President's plan to fight Zika and doing it by cutting hundreds of 
millions of dollars out of our Ebola response. With the Ebola epidemic 
just passed and still no FDA-approved vaccine or treatment for Ebola, 
what could possibly go wrong with that plan?
  I simply do not understand the Republicans. The responsible thing to 
do--the rational thing to do--is to invest the resources needed to stop 
the Zika threat in its tracks and to invest in more science and public 
health infrastructure so that we are ready when the next crisis comes.
  As congressional Republicans embrace this irrational anti-spending 
ideology, this country is put in greater and greater danger. Instead of 
investing in research so we can develop effective treatments, instead 
of supporting careful planning so we are ready for the next health 
challenge, and instead of fully funding emergency response 
infrastructure so we are prepared to respond to new threats, these 
Republicans govern by simply lurching from crisis to crisis.
  We are in this mess with Zika--a mess that is about to get a lot 
worse--because of stupid decisions made right here in Congress. Keep in 
mind that Zika, like Ebola, is a disease we have known about for years. 
But our ability to do the necessary research to eradicate these threats 
has been undercut by Republicans' desire to make more and more budget 
cuts, even when they put the health of Americans in danger.
  This country's scientific research capacity has been decimated. Over 
the last decade, the budget of the National Institute of Allergy and 
Infectious Diseases has lost about 20 percent of its purchasing power--
20 percent. The Prevention and Public Health Fund that helps build the 
infrastructure needed to prevent people from getting sick and to shut 
down outbreaks like Zika has been on the Republicans' chopping block 
year after year.
  Here is the bottom line. Our doctors, scientists, and health 
officials need our complete support in fighting this virus. They have 
told us how much money they need to do that. The less money Congress 
gives them, the more people will be hurt by the Zika virus--more babies 
with heartbreaking deformities, more adults with devastating illnesses.
  The Zika virus does not care what politicians in Washington decide is 
politically expedient. The virus is coming, and if Republicans block 
Congress from protecting the people of this country, then Republicans 
must accept responsibility for the devastating consequences.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, first of all, let me begin by saying how 
encouraged I am that we are finally seeing some action here in Congress 
dealing with the Zika virus. Today, we have not one but three separate 
proposals to deal with this which are going to come up for a vote.
  I support fully funding the request made. People say the President's 
request. Fine, it came from the White House. But it is really the 
scientists' request, the doctors' request, and the public health 
sector's request for how to address this issue.
  The fundamental point I make is twofold. We can pay for it. We can 
find $1.9 billion. By the way, we can always come back later and find 
it, too, although I know that is hard to see happening here in 
Washington. But this is a public health emergency that cannot wait for 
this extended debate on this issue, especially when you talk about an 
$18 trillion debt. Zika funding is not the reason why we have an $18 
trillion debt. It is not the national driver of our debt. That is why 
dealing with the long-term security of Medicare and Social Security is 
so critical. But we can pay for $1.9 billion, and we should. But it is 
public health experts who have said the amount we need is $1.9 billion.
  I continue to urge my colleagues to take this with the sense of 
urgency that the public health experts have. The people I have met 
with, the people I have interacted with, and the people I have been 
talking to are not political people. I haven't been talking to people 
in the White House political office. I have been meeting with people 
who work at the Centers for Disease Control. I have been meeting with 
people who work at the Florida Department of Health. I have been 
talking to department of health officials in Puerto Rico. I have been 
talking with doctors who are in the frontline of dealing with 
microcephaly and what it means long term for the children who have been 
impacted by it. That is with whom I have been talking.
  They have outlined the kinds of things we need to be doing. But more 
importantly, what they outlined is that there is so much we still don't 
know about Zika. For example, we don't know what the long-term 
consequences are of a mother who is infected with Zika while pregnant 
and the child was born without microcephaly. We don't know what happens 
in 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, or 5 years down the road. But I do know 
that many medical experts believe there will be further manifestations 
of the disease's impact on the central nervous system in many of these 
children years after this debate in Congress is finished.
  I do know that Puerto Rico is being ravaged by this. Puerto Rico is a 
territory of the United States. These are American citizens who have 
been infected with Zika. They don't have a Senator from Puerto Rico, 
although I am more than honored and grateful for the opportunity to 
speak on their behalf on these issues. But what people have to 
understand is--this is not the right way to approach it, but even if 
your approach is that it is Puerto Rico and it is not the mainland of 
the United States, then I invite you to go to the airport in Orlando or 
Miami, and you can see the daily flights and the constant flow of 
people back and forth.
  We also look at the fact that the summer months are coming. This is a 
mosquito-borne infection. We know that mosquito season is here, and it 
is coming fast. We know that the Zika virus becomes more potent as 
temperatures get warmer. Guess what. It is

[[Page S2838]]

about to get really warm not just in Florida but throughout the Gulf 
Coast States and throughout the country.
  We know that places such as Brazil have been deeply impacted by the 
Zika virus. Guess what. Tens of thousands of people are about to travel 
through the United States to and from Brazil for the summer Olympics.
  We know that Major League Baseball canceled a game in Puerto Rico 
because they believed it was a serious enough risk that they didn't 
want to put the players at risk, not to mention the crowd.
  We see something percolating, and we don't know much about it. We 
know enough about it to know it is a serious problem. We do not know 
how far this is going to go. As a result, we see the people of this 
country facing a public health threat, and our response should be to 
deal with it the way medical experts say we need to deal with it.
  We can put language in the proposal that says: If you don't end up 
spending the full $1.9 billion and you don't need all of that money, 
all of that money automatically goes back to Treasury within it a year 
or two if it hasn't been spent.
  Why take the chance? Why take the chance that at some point this 
summer we could have a significant and serious outbreak in the United 
States of America when all the Senators are back in their home States 
doing campaign stuff or whatever they are doing and have to come back 
here and deal with it and explain to the people why, when doctors and 
medical experts were warning us that this was a significant risk, we 
decided to lowball it and spend less than what was called for by 
  By no means do I intend for this to sound as if I am criticizing 
Senators Murray and Blunt. I thank them for their work. They have tried 
to come up with a bipartisan proposal that can pass.
  I said earlier, I am proud of the amendment that my colleague from 
Florida, Senator Nelson, and I are proposing here today. I hope that 
the $1.9 billion amount passes, but if we are left with a vote on the 
Blunt-Murray amendment, I think that is better than nothing, and I will 
support it. But why are we taking this chance? It makes absolutely no 
  While I am happy that the Senate will hopefully take action on this 
issue, I am concerned about what I hear coming from the House. I am 
glad that they are finally beginning to move on the legislation and 
that something is happening, but I am very concerned about the 
direction of their own funding measure. Their funding measure isn't 
even $1.1 billion. It is $622 million, and quite frankly, that will not 
cut it. If we don't spend more than that on the front end, I believe we 
will spend a lot more later on because the problem is not going to go 
away, and it certainly will not go away with $622 million to combat it. 
This is concerning to me because even if we do manage to pass the $1.9 
billion request, I am afraid even that may not be enough for the long 
  The issue that seems to be holding them back is the desire to offset 
spending. As I said, I support that 100 percent. I believe we can find 
$1.9 billion and transfer it from some other part of our budget to 
ensure that we are not deficit-spending. We can do that and we should 
do that. I am in favor of doing that, but that will not keep me from 
trying to do something about it.
  In times of public health emergencies, just like during times of 
natural disasters, I don't think we should delay action while we try to 
figure out these budgetary moves and try to agree on what we are going 
to cut from other parts of the budget. I still belive we should do it, 
but we cannot hold back for another few weeks while we are trying to 
get to that point.
  The administration has already diverted half a billion dollars that 
was intended for the fight against Ebola, but the House would raid even 
more of the Ebola funds for the Zika response.
  It is easy to say: Ebola is not in the headlines anymore. We are not 
reading about it that much, so it must not be a problem.
  Ebola still exists. It is not polio. We haven't eradicated it from 
the United States or the world. It is just not a percolating crisis 
right now, but there is nothing to say that it couldn't pop up again.
  By the way, these sorts of pandemics will become more and more common 
as people are able to extensively travel all over the world. We are at 
the crossroads of a lot of that travel.
  I don't think I am prepared to walk away. Maybe they don't need the 
full half a billion dollars, but I think it would be shortsighted to 
say that Ebola is finished, so we don't have to worry it anymore. There 
has to be some money available in case that comes up again, because it 
  I believe the House can and should do better than what it has 
proposed and should provide offsets to the spending--provide the $1.9 
billion offsets. I guarantee they will be able to find that fairly 
quickly. They could provide stringent accountability measures. They 
could stipulate in the law that they pass, for example, that if we are 
wrong and don't end up spending or needing anything close to $1.9 
billion or even $1.1 billion, that the taxpayers' money will be 
returned to the Treasury. But let's not play with fire.
  As of now, there are 112 people in the State of Florida who have been 
infected. We have many more American citizens who have been infected in 
Puerto Rico. There are many unborn children who are at risk, and many 
more will be impacted once mosquito season sets in. At the end of the 
day, these are the people we should be fighting for, and quite frankly, 
we can do much better than what the House is proposing.
  This is a devastating disease. It has taken lives throughout our 
hemisphere, and the way it impacts unborn children alone should call us 
to action. We have seen the images from Brazil of the children born 
with microcephaly. This is a devastating condition. The cost of caring 
for those children throughout their lives is extensive, and we are 
going to do it. We need to do it, and we will do it, but let's try to 
prevent it. Let's try to get ahead of it. Let's try not to just be 
reactive but proactive.
  There are reports in the press today that scientists have been able 
to take a significant step toward potentially creating a vaccine. Once 
there is a vaccine for Zika, this problem will be under control.
  As I said earlier, let's not play with fire. I hope my colleagues 
will jump on board and fully fund the $1.9 billion. If they want, we 
can put language in the legislation that says that if the money isn't 
fully spent, it will be refunded to the Treasury.
  Why take the chance? Why take a chance on an issue that is not yet 
well defined? Why take the chance on a disease that we still don't know 
everything about? Why take the chance that we could have an outbreak 
much worse than anything any of us anticipated and be caught off guard? 
Why take the chance that you will have to go home in August and 
September and explain to millions of people across this country why so 
many Americans are now being infected by this disease and you lowballed 
our approach to it a few months ago? Why take the chance?
  Let's do it once. Let's get it right. Let's ensure that we are 
protecting our people and deal with it now and deal with it fully. This 
is our obligation, and I hope we will embrace it here today. There is 
no reason we should not fully fund this proposal and listen to the 
doctors and health care experts who are asking us for this and build 
from there. I hope that is what my colleagues will do in a few hours 
when we vote on these proposals that stand before us.
  With that, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I come to the floor to speak with regard to 
providing funding for the emerging Zika crisis that the Senate will be 
considering on the floor today.
  We in this body and the entire Congress over the past several years 
have provided a lot of additional health-related supplemental funding. 
In fact, over the past 13 years, roughly $19 billion has been directed 
toward health-related emergency supplemental funding. This, of course, 
does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in

[[Page S2839]]

other supplemental spending that has circumvented the budgetary 
oversight process.
  With a national debt of $19 trillion, we have to make sure we budget 
for these types of emergencies. When we have appropriated on a 
supplemental basis $19 billion over the past 13 years--supplemental 
health funding--then we know we need to budget for this type of crisis 
and not simply go the supplemental route and go out from under our 
budgetary caps.
  I will support cloture today on the measure that includes an offset. 
We have to be more fiscally responsible as we deal with these crises. 
This is a crisis we need to deal with, but we ought to at least attempt 
to offset that funding. I believe taxpayers deserve nothing less than 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). Without objection, it is so 
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, it has been 3 months since the 
administration sent Congress the emergency funding request for Zika, 
and Congress hasn't acted on it. But today we have an opportunity to do 
so, and I hope we do.
  We will have pending before the Congress three different options on 
how to fund this public health emergency, but we must realize it is an 
emergency, and we need to have a sense of urgency to protect the 
American people and to help those south of the border to be able to 
cope with it. What are we waiting for? The mosquitoes are here. The 
mosquitoes have not only come, they have already come.
  I have said in the past that we can't build a wall to keep them out--
the mosquitoes will not pay for it--but it is no laughing matter. The 
President has said we need $1.9 billion to fight Zika to stop it from 
doing any more harm. That is what I am fighting for. We know we need to 
get the job done.
  It is not just Senator Barb talking. The World Health Organization 
has declared Zika a public health emergency. The President declared it 
as such. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through Dr. 
Freiden, has said this is a national and international emergency. And 
Dr. Fauci, head of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Neurology 
at NIH, whom we have turned to on so many occasions, has also said it. 
So every public health entity has validated that this is a serious 
public health crisis.
  We can prevent its dire consequences. Through action, particularly 
related to mosquito control and working with pregnant women and women 
of childbearing age, we can deal with this. This is not some unknown 
disease that would suddenly be arriving on our shores for which we 
would have no knowledge and no tools. These are basic public health 
tools related to mosquito control and helping women of childbearing 
  If we refuse to act, this will be a self-inflicted wound on our own 
people, and the consequences are dire. For those who care about 
children--I am sure we have already seen what has happened south of the 
border with little children being born with microencephalitis. My gosh, 
it is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking for the little child with a 
limited life expectancy and limited life opportunities, the 
responsibility that will come to the family--usually to the mother--and 
to the society that will have to care for that child.
  Today we are talking about money, but we have to think about the 
human concerns. Both Dr. Freiden and Dr. Fauci have conveyed to me and 
other Members of this body, particularly those on the Appropriations 
Committee and on the Health and Education Committee, that there are 
other unknown health issues related to those over the age of 65 or 
those with compromised immune situations now. If you have a chronic 
condition like diabetes, you could be subject to really negative 
consequences from being bitten. We have heard about Guillain-Barre. 
There are other diseases that are a consequence of Zika that give 
arthritic symptoms that can last for over 10 years.
  Why don't we do something about it? We know that mosquitoes carry 
Zika. We already know they are in several States. We know Puerto Rico 
is already being hard hit. Sports events and other events have been 
canceled. We know it is down in Florida. Look at the way Senators 
Nelson and Rubio are working together. We need to act, and we need to 
act now because we do know these horrible and devastating impacts. We 
have heard eloquent and poignant and even wrenching descriptions of 
what happens to children.
  I know a topic in our Congress and in the Senate has often been the 
unborn. Well, we really want to protect the unborn, and this is the way 
to do it. We have to stop the mosquitoes through mosquito control.
  This is basic public health. We also have to work with those women 
who are pregnant or of childbearing age to know about the consequences 
and what actions they can take to be able to do that. We need to be 
able to do this at the Federal level. Congress needs to act.
  They are already acting at a local level, but they are spending local 
money to be able to do it. My own Governor, a Republican, Larry Hogan, 
is acting. He convened a task force. He pulled his public health people 
together. He ordered his own health department to coordinate education 
and awareness with local health departments in Maryland. I salute 
Governor Hogan in taking that action. He has already authorized the 
distribution of thousands of prevention kits for pregnant women across 
the entire State. Those kits cost about $130,000 to put together and to 
distribute. Maryland is doing this on its own dime. Well, mosquitoes 
are a national consequence and even an international one.
  The counties in Maryland are doing their job--again, not Democrat or 
Republican. Again, my Governor is a staunch fiscal conservative, but he 
knows public health saves money, along with helping people with their 
  Anne Arundel County, the home of the State capital, headed by a 
Republican county executive, is acting. This local county is already 
distributing its own prevention kits. It is not only the State capital, 
it is the home of the Naval Academy. Everybody is acting on their own.
  In Baltimore City, our mayor is acting, working with the Bloomberg 
School of Public Health. We are spending local money on mosquito 
control. They need help. They need help from their own government to 
deal with the issue south of the border as they come up here, and they 
need help in their own communities to be able to fund the basic public 
health measures that we know are tried and that we know are true to be 
able to do that. I really encourage us to be able to do this and not to 
do it by raiding our programs.
  I absolutely oppose taking money from the Prevention and Public 
Health Fund to pay for Zika. The prevention fund provides resources to 
States against other public health problems. We can't prepare for and 
protect against Zika by taking funds from other public health 
activities. We don't know what the summer and the winter hold. States 
could lose as much as 40 percent of their surveillance dollars to track 
other infectious diseases.
  We have been asked for a very straightforward set of options. There 
is the Nelson-Rubio amendment asking for $1.9 billion. That is what I 
support. It would fully fund our measures, both nationally and 
internationally, and particularly help deal with the spread of this 
disease and helping local communities.
  I reject another amendment that will be coming, offered by the 
Senator from Texas, Mr. Cornyn, who is well intentioned, and I 
appreciate his sincere interest in this. But he is robbing the 
prevention fund. We need an urgent supplemental. This was an unexpected 
event, which means that it is temporary, it is unexpected, and we need 
to deal with it.
  I really want to congratulate--I know Senator Blunt and Senator 
Murray have been working on another option if the other two fail. 
Whatever it is, at the end of the day we need to take action. This is a 
public health emergency. We need to deal with it in the most 
expeditious way. I know every Senator here is concerned about it.

[[Page S2840]]

  The mosquitoes have already come to Maryland. What we don't want is 
to be stung by its consequences. So let's get on with the business of 
the day. I thank my colleagues for dealing with this issue now.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I want to talk about the amendment I have 
offered with Senator Murray and Senator Mikulski and Senator Cochran. 
The chairman and the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee 
have joined in that amendment, as have Senator Graham and Senator 
Leahy. The committees involved are truly looking at this, trying to 
find a way forward that allows us to take action. We do need to take 
action, as my good friend from Maryland has just so well explained.
  There is no vaccine. There is no simple diagnostic test. There is no 
way to treat the virus once you get infected. So communities really 
don't have very many options right now. The limited resources they have 
to manage the one thing we can do something about immediately besides 
education--the local mosquito population--are resources that are not 
nearly adequate to meet the current need.
  At this time, there is no way to fully prevent the infection, leaving 
high-risk populations at risk, especially pregnant women or women 
trying to get pregnant. That seems to be the population where the 
impact of this disease--the impact of this Zika infection--has not only 
the most short-term but the most long-term implications because of 
microcephaly and other things that are going to be impacting children 
  I am told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 
every indication now would be that once you have had Zika, you cannot 
get it again. It becomes the inoculation, so just because you get Zika 
and may at a later time become pregnant, you are not likely to have the 
same thing. That is one of the studies going on, to verify for sure 
that is the case and also to verify for sure how long after you have 
had Zika that pregnancy can still be a problem.
  This is a growing problem. There are already 650 confirmed Zika cases 
in the U.S. territories, with the majority of those being in Puerto 
Rico. There are over 500 travel-associated cases of Zika in the United 
States. If they got it here, it has been through sexual transmission 
and not from the mosquitoes themselves because obviously it is not 
mosquito season yet, but that is very close.
  This is a public health threat and clearly an emergency. This is not 
something we can plan now to deal with 2 years from now because 2 years 
from now would be too late to deal with this crisis. However, I want to 
make clear that our deliberations over the supplemental request have 
never been an either-or scenario. There has never been a scenario where 
we are either going to rubberstamp the administration's request or do 
nothing. That straw man will not work. That is not the situation.
  We need to evaluate this request. The request has certain items the 
administration asks for that I think if you look at them not even very 
closely--and certainly when you look at them closely--you find out they 
are unnecessary, they are unwarranted.
  This is a bill designed to address an emergency situation, not a bill 
designed to make the most of an emergency. For example, the 
administration's proposal has a request for the building and expansion 
of new Federal buildings; $85 million of that initial request was to 
build new buildings. There is no way those buildings would probably 
even be started during the so-called emergency timeframe or during the 
real emergency timeframe. Certainly they would not be of use during the 
timeframe. That is not a real reason to ask for money; it is just an 
excuse to ask for money. The Congress could, should, and I believe will 
say: No, we are not going to do that.
  The second request I would like to point out today, the request to 
provide the department of health with $175 million of that $1.9 
billion, was just a slush fund. It was just a fund with virtually 
unlimited authority to transfer that $175 million or any part of it to 
any purpose of any Federal Government agency.
  There may be some purposes in this emergency we don't know about yet, 
but they are not going to be $175 million, and they are not the kind of 
emergency appropriations you couldn't get by other means where the 
Congress is clearly involved. We did not provide this kind of funding 
in the Ebola crisis when the Democrats were in charge of the Senate. We 
should not provide it today.
  There is no reason for a $175 million undesignated fund to be used 
anywhere in the Federal Government, any more than there is a reason to 
take $85 million and build a new Federal building, and say ``Well, it 
is part of the Zika emergency'' because it clearly is not. If there is 
a need for a Federal building at CDC, the Centers for Disease Control 
and Prevention can come to the Congress and make that case. That is the 
way that should be done.
  If this amendment prevails today, that money will not be available. 
It is not unreasonable to ask the administration for details on what 
activities would be funded. What are their priorities, and when would 
they realistically spend these funds?
  The $1.1 billion emergency fund would take us through the end of not 
just this fiscal year but the next fiscal year, about the same time we 
would hope in talking to the National Institutes of Health that a 
vaccine will be available. Once a vaccine is available, we will need to 
look at this Zika infection in a new way, and we will get to look at it 
in a new way.
  If the administration had been a little more transparent at first, 
maybe we could have reached this point earlier. But to suggest that the 
Congress has needlessly delayed funding is both unfair and untrue.
  I also think that this is the time we can move forward. The role of 
the Appropriations Committee is to look at this and to see that the 
money appropriated is going to be spent in the right way.
  In the meantime, the administration has made available to the Zika 
crisis almost $600 million. Mr. President, $589 million is a lot of 
money. It is particularly a lot of money when it is basically one-third 
of what was being asked for. Whether what was being asked for was 
necessary or not, $589 million of unobligated funds that were available 
in other places have been brought to this cause.
  The fact that the administration did that shows in a good way just 
how serious they are about the crisis. If this were not a real crisis, 
they would not be taking $589 million that in some process would be 
spent somewhere else and say: Listen, we need to spend this on Zika 
right now. But for the people we work for, it is important to 
understand that $589 million is being spent on this, and that is no 
more than what would possibly have been spent if this appropriation 
would have happened the day the administration asked for it.
  The Appropriations Committee took the necessary time to understand 
the funding needs and response requirements to ensure that we protect 
all Americans, including taxpaying Americans. We worked in a bipartisan 
manner to provide the Department of Health and Human Services and the 
Department of State with targeted funding to respond to Zika.
  Today we have that result, a bipartisan amendment worked out between 
the leaders of the Appropriations Committee and the Labor HHS and State 
and Foreign Operations Subcommittees to meet this emergency. 
Specifically, I worked with my ranking member on Labor HHS, Senator 
Murray, to reach an agreement that will provide $850 million to the 
Department of Health and Human Services to respond in a three-pronged 
  First, that Department is to provide the funds necessary to develop 
vaccine candidates, therapeutics, and new diagnostic tools.
  Secondly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be able 
to focus responsible efforts domestically and internationally on the 
highest priority activities, such as vector control, emergency 
preparedness, and public health outreach.
  Finally, the supplemental provides targeted funding to Puerto Rico, 
which public health experts believe will be the most at-risk area in a 
Zika outbreak.

[[Page S2841]]

  Additionally, this amendment, with the work of Senator Graham and 
Senator Leahy, includes $248 million for the Department of State and 
USAID to support other affected countries' ability to implement 
programs to reduce the transmission of the virus.
  This amendment is a targeted response providing the funding needed 
through 2017. It includes funding for priority initiatives focused on 
prevention, control, and treatment. It does not include funding for 
unessential requests.

  I hope at the end of the day all Members find a way to meet this 
emergency. I believe the bipartisan amendment we are offering is the 
most likely of these amendments to meet the need. Certainly, in my 
view, it is the amendment that has taken the most focus on exactly what 
is needed to meet this crisis and meet it now.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I would say to the Senator from Missouri 
that while this Senator is most appreciative that he and Senator Murray 
have come forth in a bipartisan fashion with about half of the funding 
that this Senator--also in a bipartisan proposal, since my colleague 
from Florida, Senator Rubio, is the sponsor of this amendment with this 
Senator, I would point to the Senator's own words commending the 
administration that they recognized that this was crisis enough to go 
in and borrow $580 million from the Ebola fund to get started, since we 
couldn't get Congress off dead center until now.
  I commend Senator Blunt and Senator Murray for their action. I 
commend the leadership for being willing to put this on the T-HUD bill, 
appropriations bill, but for the Senator to suggest that he raised that 
point that it was such an emergency--$589 million--but the 
Appropriations Committee proposal only replaces the $589 million that 
has been taken from the Ebola fund. It replaces, replenishes it only 
with $88 million instead of $589 million.
  By the way, the news just broke. There is another outbreak of Ebola.
  This Senator is not here to talk about Ebola. This Senator is on the 
floor to talk about another health care medical emergency, of which 
there is well over 100 cases in this Senator's State of Florida. 
Senator Rubio and I are desperately trying to help.
  Before Senator Blunt leaves, I wish to say one other thing. He 
mentioned that we need to control the vector. What does that mean? The 
vector is the gremlin that spreads the virus; that is, the aegypti 
strain of mosquito. That mosquito is now all over the southern United 
States, especially in Puerto Rico, and mosquito control costs money.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
a letter from one of my counties, the Osceola County Commission, saying 
that they desperately need the funds as they are out of funds for 
mosquito control.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:
                                                     May 12, 2016.
     Subject: Mosquito Control--Urgent Need for Funding
     Emergency Funding Request,
     Florida Department of Health Emergency Prepardness and 
         Response, Tallahassee, FL.
       On February 04, 2016 Governor Scott declared a state of 
     public health emergency for four Florida counties. This 
     public health emergency has placed Osceola County under 
     significant financial pressure. Our program is locally funded 
     with an annual budget of less than $500,000 for arthropod 
     control, so the County does not have the additional resources 
     to address this catastrophic public health emergency.
       At the time of the Governor's Declaration, Osceola already 
     had ceased operations and gone into off-season mode. However, 
     on February 05, 2016, local media covered the first case of 
     Zika virus in Osceola County. Since then, the virus has 
     expanded into several other areas and resulted in a 
     substantial service demand increase, and the number of Zika 
     cases is still climbing, even as resources are being 
     depleted. Media continues to report that the positive cases 
     are all travel-related--with Central Florida hosting more 
     than 63 million visitors annually, and with Osceola County's 
     predominant Hispanic demographic, we are the epicenter for 
     this life-threatening virus.
       Current staffing levels are not sufficient to meet this 
     emergency. County resources are exhausted, and funds are not 
     readily available to respond to this disaster. Lives are at 
       To date, we have tried to be as creative as possible, 
     reallocating staff and other departmental resources to 
     respond to the public threat. We have shifted larvacide staff 
     to go door to door, conducting Zika sweeps in response to 
     service calls. This shifting of staff has reduced our ability 
     to larvicide, which creates a catch-22 situation--larva not 
     eliminated today become biting adult mosquitos tomorrow. 
     While it's hard to predict all the potential mosquito control 
     needs for the remainder of this year, the continuing 
     emergency situation and citizen anxiety continues to require 
     a heightened awareness and response.
       Below is a list of currently identified funding shortfalls, 
     with potentially more to come as the summer trap numbers 

Additional full-time temporary staff to perform day time        $200,000
 sweeps and Larvicide...................................
Funding for increased aerial spraying...................         100,000
Additional Back Pack Sprayers (5 X 1800.00).............           9,000
Extra on-hand fuels, chemicals, dry ice and baits.......          50,000
Private contractor for Tire pile removal................         250,000
5 spray trucks with mounted sprayers to increase                 200,000
 frequency of adulticide treatments county wide.........
Additional funding for spray driver pool (to compensate           80,000
 for additional work for night-time drivers)............
    Total initial request...............................         889,000

                                                    Donald Fisher,
                              County Manager, Osceola County BOCC.

  Mr. NELSON. What Senator Rubio and I have is an emergency 
appropriation of $1.9 billion, although it is not treated that way in 
this appropriations bill.
  The Centers for Disease Control predicts that up to 25 percent of our 
fellow American citizens on the island of Puerto Rico are going to be 
infected by the end of the year; that is, 800,000 people just there.
  Already in the United States, we have over 1,000 cases reported in 45 
States; 113 of those 1,000 are in Florida. Most of them are in South 
Florida, Miami-Dade County. Yesterday we just had another case that 
brought that total to 113. Those 113 cases are spread all over the 
State of Florida.
  The community leaders, as indicated by this letter from Osceola 
County, are saying they are out of funds. Help. This is an emergency. 
With four reported cases of the virus so far just in that county, which 
is near Orlando, they have determined they will need to triple their 
annual budget for mosquito control.
  The county manager writes:

       This public health emergency has placed Osceola County 
     under significant financial pressure.
       County resources are exhausted, and funds are not readily 
     available to respond to this disaster. Lives are at stake.

  Think about what the House has done--a $600 million Zika bill. That 
is nowhere what we need. Such a figure is not only absurd, it is an 
insult to the men and women who are on the frontlines trying to battle 
this virus. These are local governments, such as the one I mentioned in 
Osceola County. We have an opportunity to respond.
  This Senator understands it is already baked in the cake. Even though 
this proposal by Senator Rubio and me is bipartisan, it is already 
baked in the cake that it is going to be the $1.1 billion, but beware. 
The crisis is looming. We haven't gotten an effective method for 
controlling the mosquito. We do not have a vaccine. All of these things 
take time, they take money, and it is going to need research. There is 
$277 million in this proposal that Senator Rubio and I think needs to 
go to the National Institutes of Health to accelerate their research 
for a vaccine and other basic research.
  When you compare the two competing provisions out here today--the 
committee position and ours--going to Puerto Rico, ours is $250 
million. That island is devastated--$250 million for Medicaid funds. 
What is in the committee report is $126 million--half.
  For example, take the $743 million in our proposal for the CDC, the 
Centers for Disease Control. In the committee, there is $449 million. 
Overall, take the funding to HHS. There is $105 billion in ours and 
roughly half, $850 million, in the committee provision.
  I think we should not nickel-and-dime our response to what the World 
Health Organization has said and already declared a public health 
emergency of international concern. The urgency is now and we ought to 
do the right thing.
  I conclude by staying we have the Olympics in a few months in Rio. 
Brazil is covered with Zika infestation and infection. Remember, it 

[[Page S2842]]

only be transmitted by the mosquito, the aegypti, but it can also be 
transmitted sexually.
  Also, remember the doctors do not know--other than to suspect that it 
can be transmitted to the pregnant woman any time during the 9 months 
of pregnancy and it may not show up in the infant until years later in 
some developmental issue. They do know that in the first trimester of 
pregnancy, the infected virus is producing the babies with 
microcephaly. Such a case was just reported with an infected pregnant 
woman in Puerto Rico.
  We have not heard the last of this, and you are going to see it 
magnified with regard to the Olympics. Sooner or later we are going to 
have to face the music. It looks like we are going to face the music 
with about half of the appropriation today. Ultimately, this is a full-
blown emergency.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, while our colleague from Florida is on the 
floor, I thank him for being a loud and vocal proponent and for taking 
swift action. I thank the Senator for leading the fight.
  Mr. NELSON. I thank the Senator for his support because he recognizes 
the emergency.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I rise in support of emergency 
supplemental funding for Federal efforts to combat the impending threat 
of the Zika virus.
  Reports of the spread of this virus are concerning. Actually, they 
are troubling, not just for public health officials but for many 
Americans who are reading about it in the paper and seeing coverage of 
it in the news almost by the hour. Families are reconsidering vacations 
they had planned, especially to more tropical locations.
  As we approach the mosquito season, people are understandably worried 
about how this outbreak will affect them and their families, not just 
to go on a vacation and camping but literally to go outside and have a 
cookout or eat out on the porch.
  We need to continue working to fully understand and combat the health 
risks that are posed by Zika. Just like our response to Ebola, our 
response to Zika must be an all-hands-on-deck effort.
  In February, President Obama submitted a $1.9 billion emergency 
supplemental funding request to Congress to bolster programs and 
activities which would curb the spread of this virus. Given the real 
threat posed by Zika, I support the funding level requested by the 
President. I intend to vote for the amendment offered by our colleague 
from Florida, Senator Nelson, which would fully fund this request.
  With that being said, I understand that a bipartisan agreement on 
funding has been reached between Senator Blunt and Senator Murray, 
which would provide $1.1 billion toward the Zika effort. I appreciate 
their hard work in negotiating this language. I am going to support 
their amendment as well so our Nation's public health officials can 
take all necessary actions to combat the spread of this virus.
  As we have heard, the Zika virus has spread explosively throughout 
Central America and South America. In fact, it has already reached 
Puerto Rico, other U.S. territories, and is expected to spread further 
north as the weather continues to warm.
  Researchers have learned much about this virus in just the last 
couple of months. Their findings are indeed troubling.
  Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 
there is now enough scientific evidence to confirm what many have long 
speculated--the Zika virus is the direct cause of severe birth defects.
  Further complicating matters, it now appears that the mosquito 
primarily responsible for transmitting the virus has a wider presence 
in the United States than we had originally thought.
  I have two maps. We will look at the first one.
  The blue color is not good. Orange is less dangerous, less 
threatening in terms of the mosquitoes. The combination of the blue and 
the orange is troubling. If you look at the combination of blue and 
orange, it means that the two most worrisome mosquitoes are going to be 
covering the southern half of our country this summer.
  The areas to the northeast and the Midwest, to the northern part, are 
somewhat less troubling, but my State of Delaware is right here.
  Arizona, the State of the Presiding Officer, is right over here. 
Senator Nelson's State is right here. The only person on the floor 
whose State looks like they are going to escape is Maine. Senator 
Collins is here. Maybe she is in the clear, but she is here to help 
lead the fight to make sure we are all in this together and we are 
looking out for each other.
  I wish to show another map. Major cities across the East Coast, 
including in the District of Columbia, could be hit hard by the Zika 
  With mosquito season upon us and with more than 500 travel-related 
cases already diagnosed within the continental United States, we must 
be prepared for the possibility of outbreaks in some parts of this 
country. That is why I was glad to see President Obama and his 
administration take an early and proactive role in addressing Zika. 
Some of the actions already undertaken by Federal agencies include 
assisting State and local governments in mosquito-control efforts and 
ensuring that local health officials have the equipment they need to 
test people for this disease.
  We also know that promising advances are being made in medical 
countermeasures and vaccine development. To date, these efforts have 
required the transfer of resources from other priorities, as we know, 
including Ebola. Last month the Obama administration announced it would 
redirect, on an interim basis, almost $600 million from other public 
health accounts to pay for Zika-related activities. I believe the 
President made the right call in light of the circumstances and the 
dire threat that is posed by the Zika virus.
  Now, however, it is time for this Congress to do our job. It is my 
hope that we can come together in passing an amendment offered by our 
colleague from Florida, Senator Nelson. However, if we are unable to 
fully fund the President's request, I believe the funding provided by 
the Blunt-Murray amendment will go a long way toward supporting the 
many efforts currently being undertaken by the administration to combat 
Zika. I urge my colleagues to join me in providing the funding needed 
to stop the spread of the Zika virus.
  Mr. President, I will close with this: When the President gave his 
State of the Union speech--I think right after the 2014 election--he 
had up in the Gallery sitting next to Mrs. Obama some of the folks who 
helped lead the fight against Ebola in Africa. There were doctors, 
nurses, and other people who developed vaccines and that type of thing. 
It was a proud moment for our country about 3 months after the 
election, the early part of 2015.
  We were not directly threatened here by Ebola. They lost 40,000 
people in Africa, in the western part of Africa. For the most part, 
there were a lot of scare tactics about Ebola used in the runup to the 
election here in this country, but the actual threat, in hindsight, was 
not that great.
  What we did was we reached across the world and we invested a lot of 
taxpayer resources to help people who were in a terrible situation. We 
helped save literally hundreds of thousands of lives--their lives; not 
so much our lives but their lives. This is different. This is 
different. What we have at stake here is our lives and the quality of 
our lives and the ability of women to bring healthy babies into this 
world. It is not just us, it is our friends to the south of us in 
Mexico, Central America, South America, the islands of Puerto Rico and 
Cuba. We are all in this together.
  This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we need a good team effort. 
The Senate is going to vote today on whether we are going to be a full 
partner in that effort, and we need to be that full partner. We need to 
do our job. And this is one of those days that I am confident and 
hopeful that we will.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor. I note the presence of the Senator 
from Hawaii, which hopefully will not be affected by this virus. I am 
happy to yield to her.
  I thank the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, our Nation is facing a serious threat to 
public health. The Zika virus has the potential to be a major public 
health crisis.

[[Page S2843]]

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 500 cases 
in the United States, including 9 in Hawaii. Currently, all of these 
cases are travel-related. There are 700 cases in U.S. territories, 
almost all of which were locally acquired. Summer, which is the peak 
travel season and peak mosquito season, is almost upon us. Every year, 
40 million Americans travel to Zika-affected countries. It is just a 
matter of time before the threat of locally transmitted Zika becomes a 
reality in the United States.
  Although the President sent his emergency funding request to fight 
Zika to Congress more than 3 months ago, I am glad to see Democrats and 
Republicans coming together now to prevent a major U.S. Zika outbreak. 
Public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control, Department of 
Health and Human Services, and elsewhere in the administration have 
said that $1.9 billion is needed to fight the Zika virus.
  During the Senate's last State work period, I met with Hawaii 
researchers and health care providers, who agreed that we need this 
Federal funding to get ahead of Zika. This funding would go toward our 
vector-control programs, education, and vaccine development.
  I visited a Hawaii company--Hawaii Biotech--that is working on a Zika 
vaccine. This company has a proven track record in developing vaccines. 
Hawaii Biotech has spent months working to develop a Zika vaccine using 
private funding. At this critical point of vaccine development, Dr. 
Elliott Parks and his team at Hawaii Biotech agree that a public 
infusion of funds will help them get over the finish line.
  I also had the opportunity to visit with Governor David Ige, the 
Hawaii director of health, and health care providers. They all shared 
one message: that Federal funding is critical to getting ahead of a 
widespread Zika outbreak.
  The funding we are voting on today could help companies like Hawaii 
Biotech develop a much needed Zika vaccine. It would help States like 
mine increase mosquito control and awareness on Zika.
  Zika is not the benign virus we once thought it was, and funding only 
becomes more urgent as we learn about its harmful effects. Zika poses 
an imminent threat to pregnant women and, in reality, to all women of 
childbearing age. By now, we have all seen the harmful impacts Zika has 
on babies. The images and reports of babies born with microcephaly are 
heartbreaking. Zika can threaten our Nation's supply of donated blood. 
While blood banks across the country are working on methods to clean 
and test blood, they need funding to accelerate their research.
  Congress can take steps to ensure the safety and well-being of all 
citizens. We can be proactive, not reactive, to impending threats such 
as Zika.
  The Federal Government should play a leading role in coordinating and 
assisting local and State governments with mosquito control and 
supporting the latest research, much as we stepped up with Federal 
support when confronted with Ebola and avian flu.
  While there are three Zika funding measures before us today, I 
strongly urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes on Senator 
Nelson's amendment to fully fund the President's request at $1.9 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, what we do next on Zika is not an 
ideological test; it is a test of our basic competence. It has nothing 
to do with one's views on the size and scope of the Federal Government 
because, after all, if you believe the government should do even just a 
few things, preventing a catastrophic epidemic has to be one of them.
  Zika is a public health emergency, and we have to act now to fund 
$1.9 billion in supplemental funding to address it, as requested by the 
public health experts.
  I congratulate Senators Nelson, Rubio, Blunt, and Murray for working 
across the aisle to reach these agreements, and I would especially like 
to offer my support for the Nelson-Rubio $1.9 billion compromise. The 
Nelson-Rubio amendment provides the full $1.9 billion in Zika funding 
through the following: approximately $743 million for the CDC, $277 
million for NIH, $335 million for USAID, and $417 million for the State 
Department. And here is an important aspect of it: It also pays back 
the borrowed Ebola money that we need to ensure that countries stay 
prepared to prevent another Ebola crisis.
  There are a few proposals to pay for this, but I want to make the 
following point: This is an emergency. It fits the definition 
precisely, and so it shouldn't require a so-called pay-for.
  I would like to say something to the Members who have rediscovered 
their fiscal conservatism. Remember that we just passed a $622 billion 
tax subsidy package last December, and none of it was paid for--more 
than half a trillion dollars not paid for--and 5 months later we are 
nickeling-and-diming the Centers for Disease Control.
  I recently visited CDC headquarters in Atlanta to learn more about 
their efforts to combat Zika, dengue, and other vector-borne diseases. 
I have total confidence in the CDC's ability to respond to challenges 
like Zika, but we have to give them the strongest funding possible to 
make sure they can do their good work. And taking money away from the 
Prevention and Public Health Fund will strip CDC and other important 
agencies of the funds they need to protect our country from within and 
from without.
  It is fair to say that this is a Congress that has struggled to do 
its job. And even when it stumbles through a solution such as this, it 
sometimes creates a new set of problems. So far in addressing Zika, we 
have forced the administration to pull money from the CDC for Ebola or 
from States to address public health risks. If you want to find 
savings, there are plenty to be had in the Tax Code, including the more 
than half a trillion dollar package that was passed in December, and 
not a penny was paid for. There was $622 billion in tax subsidies--some 
great things in there, some questionable things in there--and not a 
penny of it was accounted for and paid for properly.
  Regardless of your side of the aisle, we can all agree that this is 
the one thing the government ought to do: keep us safe.
  Thank you to Senator Rubio and others for their calls to make Zika 
funding nonpartisan. Investing in the CDC and other agencies will 
protect our citizens from horrific diseases and shouldn't depend on 
your philosophy regarding the size and scope of the Federal Government.
  Let's do our job. Let's keep the people of the United States safe. 
Let's fund this emergency for Zika and keep us safe from Ebola and 
other dangerous diseases.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, today I wish to speak about the urgent 
need for Congress to approve emergency funds to fight the Zika virus.
  The Zika virus is a rapidly growing public health threat, and the 
stakes for women are particularly high. I strongly believe Congress 
should approve the full $1.9 billion requested by the administration to 
fight the virus. Investing the required resources now will mean fewer 
cases of Zika down the road.
  The virus is carried by two species of mosquito. They are found in 40 
States in this country. These mosquitos have been found in 12 counties 
in California, including the five most populous: Los Angeles, San 
Diego, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. More than 20 million 
people live in these counties.
  There have been 503 travel-related cases in the United States so far, 
meaning an individual was infected during a trip to Latin America, 
South America, or the Caribbean, where the virus is widespread.
  There have not yet been any reported cases of local transmission in 
the continental United States, although more than 700 cases have been 
reported in U.S. territories, including one fatality on April 29. It is 
only a matter of when, not if, we see the first case of local 
transmission, particularly as we approach the summer, when mosquitos 
are most active. By July, 7 States are expected to see high mosquito 
  While scientists are still working to understand the effects of the 
Zika virus, they are more serious than we initially thought. Zika 
causes severe, brain-related birth defects in babies when women are 
infected during pregnancy.

[[Page S2844]]

  Microcephaly, one of the most serious effects of Zika, causes babies' 
heads to be much smaller than normal. In severe cases, you will also 
see seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, feeding 
problems, and hearing and vision loss.
  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to research 
the virus, and it could be several years before the full range of 
health effects is known.
  The most common way people contract Zika virus is through mosquito 
bites, but there have been documented cases of the virus being spread 
from men to women through sexual contact. Scientists now believe sexual 
transmission is more common than initially thought.
  Zika symptoms are mild--fever, rash, and joint pain--meaning that 
many people may become infected and spread with disease without knowing 
they have it. Unless we act now, we could end up with a significant 
number of Zika carriers who don't know they are infected.
  As I mentioned previously, the administration has asked Congress for 
$1.9 billion in emergency funding to stop the spread of the Zika virus. 
Senator Nelson introduced a bill, which I have cosponsored, to provide 
the full $1.9 billion. Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio have also 
introduced an amendment to the bill currently under consideration to 
provide the full $1.9 billion. Last week, an agreement was reached 
between Senators Murray and Blunt on an amendment that would provide 
$1.1 billion in funding.
  I applaud their efforts and know they worked hard to come to 
agreement on a package that could get broad bipartisan support. The 
Federal Government will use these funds for a number of prevention and 
mitigation activities, including controlling mosquito populations, 
researching and testing for the virus, educating the public, and 
developing a vaccine.
  However, I think it is important to highlight what we are losing by 
funding the Zika response at $1.1 billion and not $1.9 billion. Reduced 
funding now will hinder our response in a number of ways.
  It will be harder to address Zika in the future, with a potentially 
higher cost. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
will receive nearly $300 million less. The National Institutes of 
Health will receive $77 million less. The Health and Human Services 
Emergency Fund will receive $83 million less. This means that testing 
may not be as widely available as it should be, and developing a 
vaccine may take longer.
  There is also $114 million less to fight Zika abroad. We live in a 
global society. To prevent the spread of Zika virus, we must fight the 
disease where it is, not wait for it to come here.
  It's also important to note that we can't launch prevention and 
mitigation activities overnight. It takes time to address mosquito 
populations and distribute testing kits. If we don't approve the 
necessary funds now and Zika spreads, funds approved later may not be 
as effective.
  Past is prologue, and we have seen the effects of similar health 
crises. I remember when rubella was widespread in the United States 
before a vaccine was available. This is also a disease with mild 
symptoms. It spread easily and was particularly dangerous for pregnant 
women and their babies.
  The rubella vaccination campaign in 1969 was critical to stopping 
this disease, which infected 12.5 million people from 1964-1965. In 
2004, the United States was declared rubella-free. We're down to an 
average of 11 travel-related cases per year.
  The point is we know enough about the Zika virus to understand that 
it is a serious threat. We also know from history how important it is 
to address public health threats as early as possible. This is 
especially important when the virus is carried by an insect as common 
as mosquitoes and the initial symptoms of the disease are mild or even 
  In closing, Congress cannot afford to delay. I strongly urge the 
Senate to approve the administration's sensible request to fight this 
growing public health threat. Thank you.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, today I wish to speak in opposition to 
Senator Cornyn's amendment. This amendment eliminates protections under 
the Clean Water Act related to spraying pesticides into the Nation's 
rivers, streams, and lakes to control mosquitoes.
  Pesticide pollution is a significant problem and a major contributor 
to poor water quality in our Nation's water bodies. According to the 
Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1,800 waterways in the U.S. 
are known to be polluted by pesticides, and many more may be polluted 
but are not monitored. We know that pesticides harm fish and wildlife 
and are linked to a wide range of damaging human health impacts, 
including cancer and harm to pregnant women, infants, and children.
  Exempting pesticide spraying from the Clean Water Act is completely 
unnecessary to control the spread of mosquitoes to address the Zika 
virus. In 2011, EPA issued a streamlined Clean Water Act general 
permit, which allows operators to get one permit for up to 5 years. The 
permit requires simple management techniques and reporting to protect 
water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, swimming, and recreational 
  Most mosquito control districts around the country already have 
authorization to spray pesticides to control mosquitoes under this 
existing pesticide permit. In addition, EPA's permit includes 
provisions to allow immediate spraying to address public health 
emergencies. If a local government is not currently authorized to spray 
under EPA's permit and a pest emergency is declared at the local, 
State, or Federal level, pesticides can be immediately sprayed to 
address the health concerns without approval by EPA or a State.
  In the case of Zika, States or local governments can declare a pest 
emergency under the general permit in areas where they believe Zika-
carrying mosquitos may be a problem, and they can immediately begin 
spraying pesticides to control the spread of the virus.
  These requirements are a commonsense approach to ensure gallons of 
excess pesticides are not dumped into our waters, and they provide 
sufficient flexibility to address public health threats, such as Zika.
  The Cornyn amendment is not about improving the response to Zika. It 
is a backdoor attempt to gut the Clean Water Act, one of our Nation's 
bedrock environmental laws.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose the Cornyn amendment and help keep our 
waterways clean.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.

                    Amendment No. 3922, as Modified

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
notwithstanding the adoption of the Feinstein-Portman amendment No. 
3922 that it be modified with the changes at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment, as modified, is as follows:

       At the appropriate place in title II of division A, insert 
     the following:
       Sec. __.  Section 218(g) of the Cranston-Gonzalez National 
     Affordable Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 12748(g)) shall not apply 
     with respect to the right of a jurisdiction to draw funds 
     from its HOME Investment Trust Fund that otherwise expired or 
     would expire in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019 under that section.

  Ms. COLLINS. I thank the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, shortly the Senate will vote on three 
different versions of appropriations bills that will provide the needed 
money to help combat the anticipated challenges we are going to have 
with the Zika virus, which we have talked a lot about. Obviously, Zika 
is a threat, particularly to women of childbearing age because of the 
horrific birth defects associated with it, most prominently 
microcephaly, or basically a skull that is smaller than normal, leading 
to premature death and, obviously, horrific injuries.
  There is bipartisan support for this legislation.
  First of all, we will have a chance to vote on the President's 
request of $1.9 billion. The biggest objection I have to that $1.9 
billion is that it really doesn't come with a plan that says how the 
President will spend that money. It also is not paid for. As the 

[[Page S2845]]

Officer well knows, we have a huge national debt, and there is no 
reason to just gratuitously rack up more debt in order to deal with 
this public health concern.
  There is a second vote we will have on a $1.1 billion appropriations 
bill. This is the product of the good work done by Senator Roy Blunt of 
Missouri and Senator Patty Murray of Washington. They have cut down the 
President's request from $1.9 billion to $1.1 billion, and they believe 
this will fund the needed work not only of this fiscal year but into 
the next fiscal year as well. That is also not offset or paid for, and 
I think that is a problem.
  First of all, the House has proposed a roughly $600 million bill that 
is fully offset, so we are going to have some differences between the 
House and the Senate over how we address the Zika virus challenge.
  The third is a piece of legislation I have offered that I would 
certainly ask my colleagues to support. This is fully offset out of 
something called the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created 
by the Affordable Care Act. So there is money in the Treasury now that 
could help pay for the $1.1 billion. I should say that about $900 
million of it could be paid for now, and by next year there will be 
more money put into this Prevention and Public Health Fund.
  As we can see, the Affordable Care Act provides that. This Prevention 
and Public Health Fund is ``to provide for expanded and sustained 
national investment in prevention and public health programs.'' I can't 
imagine any more urgent public health program or one that we should be 
looking to prevent more than this particular threat, the Zika virus.
  I would point out that the Prevention and Public Health Fund has been 
used to fund some things--many good things, some which I think are 
questionable, like promoting free pet neutering, encouraging urban 
gardening, and boosting bicycle clubs. Certainly, prevention of these 
horrific birth defects and the threat of the Zika virus spreading 
through the continental United States and its impact on our population 
is more important than these.
  So I ask my colleagues, please, let's deal with this threat in the 
responsible way that we all agree we should, but let's do so in a 
fiscally responsible way as well. There is no reason to gratuitously 
add to the deficit and the debt. We can do this in a responsible way 
from a public health standpoint and fiscally as well.
  Mr. President, I know the Senator from New York, Mr. Schumer, is 
coming to the floor at noon, and we are going to present a matter for 
the Senate's consideration. I don't see him here yet, but I am told he 
is on his way. So let me turn to that topic, and I know Senator Schumer 
will be here momentarily.