(House of Representatives - September 07, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 134 (Wednesday, September 7, 2016)]
[Page H5101]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              {time}  1015
                         URGING ACTION ON ZIKA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak out against the 
paralysis in Congress over funding Zika virus eradication efforts.
  I have been warning my colleagues in Congress for months that the 
Zika virus would severely impact our Nation, and especially south 
Florida, the gateway to the Americas. And while Washington has 
slumbered through the late summer, it has been a busy August in south 
Florida dealing with the fallout. It is because of Federal inaction 
that now Miami-Dade County will be spending $10 million of our own 
budget to cover for some of the expenses in the fight against Zika.
  Back in February, I cosponsored four bills to help start 
comprehensive preparations for the virus' arrival, including opening up 
funding sources for mosquito control, freeing the administration to 
reprogram unspent Ebola funds for fighting Zika, and incentivizing 
pharmaceutical companies to begin developing treatments and vaccines 
for Zika.
  In March, I requested that $177 million be made available 
specifically for aid to local mosquito control programs, extra funding 
for the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, and new dollars for 
innovative mosquito control tool development.
  In April, I voted in favor of using the FDA's Priority Review Voucher 
Program to incentivize Zika virus treatment development.
  In May, I voted to give State and local authorities a temporary 
waiver providing more flexibility in using EPA-approved insecticides 
for mosquito control.
  I also voted against an inadequate $600 million Zika supplemental 
funding bill, joining 183 other Members, because public health experts 
contended that it would not be enough to deal with the expected impact 
of Zika in the U.S.
  In June, I voted in favor of a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill that 
passed the House but did not pass the Senate. Yesterday, the Senate 
again stopped any debate on Zika funding.
  In response to a meager grant sum delivered to the State of Florida 
after the discovery of mosquito transmission in Wynwood, a section in 
the city of Miami, in early August, I led the entire Florida 
congressional delegation in a letter urging the CDC to deliver more 
funds to Florida, where they were most needed.
  As a result of that letter and other efforts, the Obama 
administration announced that it would indeed reprogram another $81 
million for anti-Zika efforts. But now, the CDC Director has stated 
that the CDC has no more funds available to use for Zika interdiction 
and eradication.
  We need a comprehensive response, Mr. Speaker, that limits the spread 
of this virus as quickly as possible. This is long overdue. I was ready 
to go back into an emergency session weeks and weeks ago to pass a 
comprehensive package, but despite my pleas, this House did not 
reconvene. Now the House is back in session, but to this point, no 
votes on a Zika funding bill are scheduled.
  How much longer do south Floridians need to wait for the government 
to commit more resources to fighting Zika?
  My constituents are tired and fed up with excuses and buck-passing. I 
am sick of Congress' partisan fighting and political grandstanding. I 
stand united with the hardworking residents and families of south 
Florida, and I will continue working on their behalf to demand that 
this Congress do its job and protect the American people.
  Let's pass the President's request for $1.1 billion to fight Zika and 
develop a vaccine--a clean bill, with no policy riders--and pass it 
before this virus spreads even wider throughout our great Nation.
  Here we have a picture of an area of the district that is impacted 
already. We have other areas that are impacted. We have other areas in 
Florida. We have other areas throughout the United States. Let's stop 
Zika. We can do it. Let's pass the funding bill.