CALLING FOR ACTION ON PUBLIC HEALTH CRISES FACING OUR COUNTRY
(House of Representatives - September 08, 2016)

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[Pages H5172-H5173]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     CALLING FOR ACTION ON PUBLIC HEALTH CRISES FACING OUR COUNTRY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, on July 14, House Republicans streamed 
out of the Capitol as I stood on this floor with my Democratic 
colleagues calling for action on the public health crises facing our 
country: gun violence, Zika, and Flint, Michigan's, poisoned water.
  It is now nearly 8 weeks later. Congress has returned from the 
longest summer recess in more than 60 years, but we still have seen no 
action from the Republican majority on our Nation's most urgent crises.
  Meanwhile, we are in the midst of a Zika outbreak. Puerto Rico is on 
track to see 25 of its population infected. Florida has locally 
transmitted Zika cases, and it is only a matter of time until we see 
cases in other States. Actually, we have seen some in other States. 
Parents who should be looking forward to the birth of a child are 
terrified that the baby may be born with devastating lifelong health 
problems.
  Yet, Republicans refuse to provide the funding we need to combat this 
outbreak. Instead of passing a bill with sufficient funding, 
Republicans insist on making sure, believe it or not, that the 
Confederate flag can fly at VA cemeteries and on preventing family 
planning clinics from helping patients with Zika.
  That is right. Even though Zika has the greatest impact on women who 
are, or could become, pregnant, Republicans want to add a rider to stop 
the family planning clinics that serve women from responding to Zika.
  Today, family planning clinics, like Planned Parenthood, are already 
on the front lines in fighting against Zika. In addition to providing 
family planning services, Planned Parenthood volunteers are visiting 
25,000 households in Florida to find people of reproductive age, 
especially young women, who have likely not been reached by State or 
Federal Zika education efforts. They are providing Zika kits for 
pregnant women, containing items like insect repellent and standing 
water treatment.
  Family planning clinics are an important part of our response to 
Zika. But instead of recognizing that fact, Republicans have doubled 
down on their extreme views on women's health.
  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the Infectious Disease Institute at 
the National Institutes of Health, has said in no uncertain terms that 
if we do not pass additional Zika funding, we will have to stop our 
efforts to develop a vaccine. Already, Federal agencies have had to 
borrow money from other critical health priorities to address the Zika 
problem. We have allowed money to be taken--or the Republicans have--
from Ebola, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. We can't keep fighting 
back by cutting back our fight against these other diseases.
  Republican's refusal to pass Zika funding will have serious, deadly 
consequences for years to come. Americans can't wait any longer.
  At the same time, the people of Flint are still waiting for 
congressional assistance after the tragic lead poisoning crisis in that 
city. I joined 25 of my Democratic colleagues in Flint earlier this 
year. We heard from nearly 200 community members, including parents, 
worried about their children's future. After that trip, we said we 
wouldn't forget these families, and Democrats haven't.
  Again and again, I have joined with my colleagues to call on 
Republican leadership to bring the Families of Flint Act--that is a 
bill--to the floor. Flint's Congressman Kildee's bill would provide 
supplemental funding to repair and support this community's needs. Lead 
has often devastating brain development effects, but families can meet 
that challenge if we provide the health, education, and the wraparound 
services that they need.
  But months later, we have come up dry. No bill to fund Flint aid. No 
funding for Zika. No gun safety legislation. Nothing.
  What is on the floor this week?
  Well, we have bills that will help Wall Street make even more money. 
And we have a bill to impeach the head

[[Page H5173]]

of the IRS, mentioned by exactly no one--zero constituents in my 
district--over the 7-week recess. We have wasted critical weeks during 
the summer recess, and Republicans are now wasting our first week back 
in session.
  We have only 15 legislative days before we are scheduled to leave 
town again. Let's get to work and pass the critical funding for Flint 
and Zika and do something about gun violence.

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