(House of Representatives - September 13, 2016)

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[Pages H5432-H5433]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              ZIKA FUNDING

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Mimi Walters of California). Under the 
Speaker's announced policy of January 6, 2015, the Chair recognizes the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Garamendi) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California 
for the opportunity to speak this evening. We have just been listening 
to a very lengthy discussion on the part of the healthcare issues in 
the United States, and, undoubtedly, the family or the small community 
pharmacist is a piece of the solution to the problems. But I want to 
spend the next 10 minutes or so, maybe a little longer, talking about a 
problem that currently affects some 19,000 Americans and a problem that 
is growing every day.
  This is the new four-letter word that we fear. We are accustomed to a 
lot of four-letter words, but this one begins with a Z. This is the 
Zika crisis. This is a very, very real problem for some 1,600 pregnant 
women in the United States. This is a problem that men and women that 
intend to have a family, women that intend to bear children, get 
pregnant in the days and months ahead have a gut feeling of fear--a 
deep, deep fear--and husbands, spouses, and lovers similarly.
  This is the Zika crisis. We have heard a lot about it during the 
Olympics. It hasn't passed off the radar screen except here in 
Congress. I know it is on the minds of Californians, over 500 in 
California, and nearly 15,500 Americans in Puerto Rico. They have that 
fear. They have Zika.
  So all across this Nation, this new four-letter word is not used as a 
cuss word. It is a word of fear, and it is a word of trouble. 
Apparently, in the Halls of your Capitol, in the Halls of the United 
States Congress, it is ignored. Several months ago, we did pass a piece 
of legislation that was supposed to deal with this. But understand 
this: The Centers for Disease Control is about to run out of money at 
the end of this month and will have to stop research on Zika, on the 
virus, on vaccines, and on how it is spread.
  We know that the mosquito is a piece of this, and we know it is prime 
mosquito time across much of the United States. Let me show you a map--
a lot of blue on that map. That doesn't mean Democrat. That means Zika. 
Where you see the bright blue, that is where the Zika mosquito--the 
aedes--is found, and this is where we presently have cases.
  South Florida, the only time in American history that there has been 
a travel alert for health reasons within the Continental United States 
is now found in south Florida. Why? Because now we have mosquitos that 
are spreading the virus.
  In other parts of the Nation, we know that this mosquito is present, 
and we know it is going to happen, if not this year then next year. 
This is not something that is going to go away in the next few months 
as winter approaches. It will come back next year, and it will come 
back with a greater vengeance, just as the West Nile virus that spread 
across the United States is now found in most every State. But that is 
not an illness that leads to the tragedy of children being born with 
severe injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives, which 
may be a very short life.
  This is a problem. This is a problem that your United States Congress 
is ignoring. There is a bill bouncing around, and it is loaded with a 
bunch of riders that are: What are you talking about? Riders that 
prevent women's health clinics from providing assistance to women. It 
is the women, after all, that bear the great burden of this. They are 
the ones that are going to be pregnant. They are the ones that will be 
carrying the children. But those women's health clinics cannot allow 
access to the money. What in the world is that all about? What 
foolishness. What meanness.
  By the way, none of the money can be used for contraception. Give me 
a break. What do you mean? That is the legislation that is being 
proposed here in the United States Congress. Even the Pope has 
suggested that because of this crisis in Brazil that the steadfast 
opposition of the Vatican to contraception may need to be pushed aside. 
But not here in the House of Representatives. Come on. Let's get real. 
Let's understand the nature of this crisis.
  The Zika virus is not transmitted only by mosquitos. We are 
discovering that the transmission can come in

[[Page H5433]]

many, many different ways--many different ways. So what are we doing 
about it? Nothing. We are spending time talking about impeaching the 
IRS Commissioner. Come on. In the history of this Nation, only one 
person other than a President has been impeached, and that was back in 
the 1870s, a Secretary of War. An IRS Commissioner is not even a 
Cabinet member. We are spending our time on that.
  We are where, 20 days, a little less, from the end of the fiscal year 
when we have to fund government? We are less than what, 17 days away 
from the ability of the Centers for Disease Control to continue to 
research and to address this issue? Look at the map, Americans. Every 
State. And Puerto Rico is not on this map, and they are Americans. 
There are over 15,000 cases there and more than 1,000 women who are 
pregnant and many, many more who will become pregnant. So what is your 
United States Congress doing? Dithering would be an insufficient word 
to address this crisis.
  This is a public health crisis. This is a crisis that the solution 
presented to us a few months ago was to take money out of the Ebola 
program. Did we forget about Ebola? Did it go away? No, it did not. 
That money was being spent on monitoring the travelers from those areas 
of Africa where Ebola still exists. So that money is gone. So I 
suppose, in the next months or year ahead, we will go back into the 
Ebola problem once again.
  Money was taken from the public health programs in counties 
throughout the United States. The proposal that moved out of this House 
of Representatives swept from the counties and the States money that 
the public health departments in those areas needed to deal with public 
health emergencies, one of which was Zika. And there are other public 
health emergencies that are always before us. I mentioned the West Nile 
virus. California has a whooping cough problem that is ongoing, and 
that is a public health crisis. Children die of that.
  So what is the solution? Not what we normally do when we have a 
crisis, which is to go to the Federal Treasury and say: America has a 
problem. Americans will solve that problem or address that problem and 
try to deal with the effect of it by appropriating money so that we can 
address it.
  When the terrible floods occurred recently in Louisiana, did we raid 
other agencies to deal with it? No. We go to FEMA, and we go to the 
emergency funding, as we did with Katrina, as we did with Sandy, and as 
we do with the fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. But not with Zika. 
Somehow Zika is different.
  If you are a grandmother or a grandfather and your granddaughter is 
about to get married, what is on your mind? The wedding to be sure. But 
you are also thinking about that pregnancy that might be following, and 
you are thinking: will my daughter or my granddaughter acquire the Zika 
virus? What will it mean?
  Apparently, that thought is not found in my fellow colleagues here on 
the floor of the House of Representatives, even though they have 
children, even though they have daughters and granddaughters, even 
though within their families there will be pregnancies. We have got to 
think about this. Maybe there are 16,000 affected in the United States 
today. But this virus is not going away. This virus is going to be with 
us years ahead, and the effects of it are going to be felt in the next 
generations. It is already here in the United States.

                              {time}  2130

  We have had babies born with serious defects as a result of Zika. It 
is already with us. And there will be more. There will be many, many 
  This public health crisis must be met by the full power of the 
Federal Government, just as we meet other crises. It is our 
responsibility. 535 of us and the President.
  The President has asked for $1.9 billion to deal with this health 
crisis. The response by my colleagues on the Republican side of the 
House of Representatives, a little over $6 million, most of which is 
stolen from other public health programs. Disgraceful. Dereliction of 
  The Senate is talking about a $1.1 billion program. Good. Without 
riders, without the kind of foolish riders that are being presented 
here. Good. Let's get on with it. We will take the Senate bill. Give us 
a clean Senate bill so that there is money available for the Centers 
for Disease Control to continue its research, so that there is money 
available for the public health programs in south Florida, in Texas, in 
Puerto Rico, California, and in other States to carry on the fight 
against the mosquitoes and to deal with the other methods of 
transmission, to warn the public, to prepare the public. We can do it.
  Anybody that knows how much money the Federal Government spends every 
year knows that $1 billion to address a fundamental public health 
crisis is available. It is readily available. We ought to get on with 
it. And shame on us if we don't.
  I yield back the balance of my time.