Vern Buchanan says he will oppose ‘inadequate’ Zika funding bill

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said today he will oppose House legislation that contains “inadequate” funding to address the growing threat posed by the Zika virus.

“The funding in this bill is far less than what the Centers for Disease Control said is needed to confront the Zika threat,” Buchanan said. “The lives of thousands of infants are potentially at risk. There’s no excuse for failure to act responsibly and swiftly.”

Buchanan said he was hopeful that in the end, Congress would put aside partisan differences and approve an appropriate level of funding to contain the mosquito-borne virus.

Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said Wednesday the House bill fails to provide adequate funding to diagnose the virus, combat the mosquitoes and develop a safe and effective vaccine, according to The Associated Press.

Buchanan was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus. The CDC has told Buchanan the money is essential to protect people in Florida and elsewhere as the summer months approach and mosquitoes flourish.

Florida has 120 reported cases of the Zika virus as of Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health. Across the U.S. there are 503 travel-related cases of Zika, according to the CDC.

Buchanan was also one of the first in Congress to back using emergency federal funding to fight the virus.

The CDC has declared that its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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