He says it could lead to some ‘tragedies.’
Frederick, Md (KM) 6th District Representative John Delaney (D-Md) says he tries to be bipartisan and often reaches across the aisle to his Republican colleagues to get things do. But he says Congress’ failure to pass legislation before it’s August recess dealing with the Zika virus was due to partisan politics.
Delaney said health officials had warned that Zika could be a crisis, and preparations needed to be made. “The fact that this became a political issue–and, unfortunately my Republican colleagues really didn’t want to accept the recommendations from the CDC and NIH–and they turned it into a political issue. They turned into some kind of an Obama issue,” he said.
Delaney noted that Congress acted to combat the Ebola virus and the Avian flu. “And I think that we wanted to have the same pro-active approach here. And for reasons that are all about politics, we weren’t able to do it, and it’s incredibly disappointing,” he says.
Republicans drafted legislation to fund the fight against the Zika virus, but Democrats objected because it contained language to deny Zika-related funds to Planned Parenthood, and loosen environmental regulations on pesticides. Democrats also wanted $2-billion dollars in funding without corresponding cuts elsewhere in the budget.
Senate Republicans are blaming Democrats for blocking this House-passed bill. They also say they want to use some of the leftover money from the fight against Ebola.
Delaney says constituents want their government to act on this crisis, especially since the recent Zika cases in Florida have come from mosquito bites in the US, and not from those who have traveled to countries where this virus is rampant. “They want this dealt with. They want the government to pro-active. And I think when they think about it, they realize that there’s a very big expense to be avoid if we do some smart prevention,” he says.
Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin are joining their fellow Democrats and calling for the Republican leadership to bring Congress back into session to deal with this crisis.
Zika is spread by the mosquito bites with the Aedes aegypti the most common transmitter of this disease. It can cause birth defects in the specifically microcephaly. Women who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant are strongly encouraged not to travel to areas where Zika is widespread.
It’s also spread by sexual relations with an infected person.
The US Department of Health and Human Services says as of August 4th, there were more than 7,300 case of Zika in the United States and its territories.