As the first case of Zika surfaced in Manatee County, Congressman Vern Buchanan scolded Congress for adjourning for the summer without funding efforts to confront the deadly virus.
Manatee County was one of 18 new travel-related cases reported by the Florida Department of Health on Friday – the largest number of new cases confirmed in a single day. Manatee County is now included in the state’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency.
“Washington’s failure to approve Zika funding is a national disgrace,” Buchanan said. “Communities in Manatee County and elsewhere in Florida needed federal resources weeks ago to stop this deadly virus. The health of thousands of lives are now at stake because Congress and the president could not overcome their political differences.”
Florida leads the country in the number of reported Zika cases. As of Friday there were 311 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are 1,306 travel-related cases across the U.S.
“Congress has failed its primary duty to protect American lives,” Buchanan said. “Inevitably, more vulnerable pregnant mothers and newborns are now at risk because of partisan politics.”
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats voted to block a must-pass Zika funding bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The Senate brought up the bill again this week in a last ditch effort before Congress went home, however the funding was again blocked. As a result, no congressional action will be taken on the Zika emergency funding until after Sept. 5.
“Congressional leaders as well as the president should have been working together to solve this impasse,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan has pushed for rapid and full emergency funding for the Zika response and has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus. He also wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the Zika conferees to provide the full amount of emergency funding requested by the Obama administration.
The Congressman was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for full funding to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.