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Zika and the Republicans

Zika and the Republicans

The Obama administration has been pleading for nearly a year for more money for Zika research and eradication, only to have Republicans say what they always say, which is 'no'

A Prime Example of Why Voters Hate Congress


The rapid spread of the Zika virus from Brazil to the Caribbean to Florida and beyond is a public health emergency that should be laid squarely at the feet of the Republican leaders of Congress – Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan.

The Obama administration has been pleading for nearly a year for more money for Zika research and eradication, only to have Republicans say what they always say, which is “no.”

In Miami – often called the capital of South America – an entire neighborhood is seeing Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Miami Beach, a world tourism destination, is being shunned by both foreign and domestic visitors. In Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, there are 14,000 locally acquired Zika cases.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map of the U.S. and its territories showed only Alaska and Wyoming as being Zika-free at the start of September. California, New York, Texas, Illinois and Florida face the most locally spread (nontravel-related) cases.

And we’re already seeing the secondary effects of Zika. In Illinois and South Carolina, which are aggressively spraying insecticide to suppress mosquito populations, millions of honey bees have been killed. Wall Street has downgraded the stock of Carnival, the cruise line that markets the Caribbean to leisure travelers.

While the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins and Florida State University appear to have found that an existing tapeworm drug may block Zika’s replication ability and its effects on fetal brain development, an entire year has been wasted in the fight against a serious health threat.

As the debate over Zika raged, the GOP was trying to drag Planned Parenthood into the issue. Although no tax dollars are used by the group for abortions, the GOP wants them zeroed out, according to an editorial in the East Bay (San Francisco) Times:

“This makes no sense. Planned Parenthood uses no federal dollars for the 3 percent of its work that involves abortions. It is, however, one of the key safety-net public health centers across the nation, playing a crucial role in educating people about the virus — for example, spreading the word that Zika can be spread by sexual contact, not only by mosquitoes.”

If Congress can’t respond quickly to a public health emergency, what good is it?

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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