Zika is here and we are running out of resources to deal with it. There are more than 11,525 confirmed cases of Zika in America, and 1,400 of those are pregnant women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden announced on Wednesday that they will run out of resources to combat Zika by late September.
If you recall, Republicans wouldn’t allow Zika funding unless Democrats also agreed to restrict funding for birth control via Planned Parenthood, cut veterans funding, take money from Obamacare, and continue letting the Confederate flag be flown at federal cemeteries. In other words, more hostage taking by Republicans.
Then, before anything could be resolved, Republicans ran away a day early to take the longest recess in at least three decades.
So Zika is unfunded.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is already exasperated, and in a statement said, “CDC Director Tom Frieden recently said, ‘we need Congress to act to allow us to respond effectively.’ When Congress reconvenes next week, it is critical that the Republican Leadership act swiftly to pass the Senate’s bipartisan Zika funding bill, which provides $1.1 billion in emergency resources to fight the Zika virus and contains no poison pills.”
Mind you, President Obama requested emergency resources back in February, a fact Pelosi also reminded people of in her statement.
“Expectant mothers, tourists, and families in Florida, Puerto Rico and across America deserve better than this continuing Republican recklessness,” Pelosi continued.
What happened here was the Senate had come up with a reasonable bipartisan MilCon-VA-Zika conference report, but then Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed House Republicans to pack it with poison pills.
In order to fund Zika, Republicans are demanding the following:
It restricts funding for birth control provided by Planned Parenthood.
It exempts pesticide spraying from the Clean Water Act.
It cuts veterans’ funding by $500 million below the Senate bill.
It cuts Ebola funding by $107 million.
It rescinds $543 million from Obamacare.
It strikes a prohibition on displaying the Confederate flag that was in a House bill.
Remember when the House passed a bill to ban the Confederate flag in VA cemeteries? Well, they decided they wanted a take back after that brief moment of good press, and why not attach that demand to emergency funding, you know, like you get to do at your job.
When you want something really badly – like, say to fly the Confederate flag at your desk — go ahead and ask, but the boss says no, what you do is you refuse to do your job during an emergency until the boss gives in. If the boss gets bitten by a mosquito during your poutfest, well, too bad.
Democrats offered to pass the clean bipartisan agreement, which isn’t what President Obama asked for (based on the needs of scientists, not some whim list) but is better than nothing and certainly workable, but Republicans were adamant that they must be off to recess and Zika could wait. During mosquito season.
And so here we are, with Republicans claiming that Democrats refused to pass a bill to fund Zika, conveniently leaving out the crazy poison pills with which the Republicans packed it.
No, we’re not going to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood just to get Republicans to do their job. If they want to do those things, they need to do it up front, not in secret hoping no one will notice. Even if someone is against Planned Parenthood and Obamacare and veterans, they ought to appreciate that this is not the proper procedure by which to advance the conservative agenda.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.