Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Calls for Full Funding to Eradicate Zika

May 2, 2016
Press Release
Summer is Coming – And So Are the Mosquitoes

Florida Ground Zero in Battle vs. Deadly Virus

WASHINGTON – Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan said today Washington needs to “put the health of Americans first and fully fund efforts to eradicate the Zika virus.”

Buchanan said he supports an additional $1.9 billion in funding requested by the government to contain and eradicate the virus. He based his decision on troubling new developments, including the first fatality on U.S. soil and new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think. Researchers also say they have learned that up to 29 percent (not 1 percent as originally believed) of pregnant women infected with Zika showed fetal abnormalities. New evidence also shows that the disease can be sexually transmitted in addition to being carried by mosquitos.

“Zika’s shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States,” Buchanan said. “The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly.”

The Centers for Disease Control 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.

“There's a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington – and this is the latest example,” Buchanan said. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”

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

Last month the Obama administration tapped existing funds to respond to the Zika virus outbreak, mirroring legislation Buchanan co-sponsored. In February, Buchanan announced his support for the Zika Response and Safety Act (H.R. 4446), which would have allowed government agencies to use Ebola funding previously appropriated by Congress to prevent further outbreaks of the Zika virus.

The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve about $1.9 billion in new federal spending to combat Zika, but partisan fighting has frozen action on the request.

The funding will be used to expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, development of a vaccine and research into the complications of contracting the virus.