Politics

Political Arguments Delay Actions Against the Zika Virus

Lawmakers Leave Issue Unsolved

by Gabriel Davila

Democrats in Congress stopped the passage of a $1.1 billion federal bill issued by the Republicans and accused GOP lawmakers of damaging the legislation with political contingency plans as well as excluding Democrats from drafting the bill.

“We have a public health crisis descending on our country,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican. “Pregnant women all across America are looking at this with dismay, utter dismay, as we sit here in a partisan gridlock manufactured by the other side.”

Republicans proposed a bill, which was $800 million less than what the Obama administration asked for.

The legislation would implement new restrictions on Planned Parenthood and similar clinics who provide contraceptives against the Zika virus, which can be passed on sexually.

Democrats also railed against a provision cutting $540 million in financing from the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law, and proposed further reallocation of money from Ebola programs, totaling $107 million, the New York Times reported.

“What we want [the Republicans] to do is negotiate,” Senator Charles Schumer said. “We’re willing to compromise… But what they’re doing is going to kill any chance of Zika [funding].”

The GOP’s plan would have given funding for vaccine research to the National Institutes of Health, community health centers in areas with the highest rates of Zika transmission, and general funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Public health officials need this money for Zika now,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “They need to prepare for this public health threat, which is here. To leave now, without putting an emergency spending bill on the President’s desk, is the height of irresponsibility.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the 1,962 Zika cases reported in the United States, 22 were sexually transmitted, six had Guillain-Barré syndrome, and one was acquired through laboratory transmission.

The Zika virus causes severe microcephaly in newborns. The condition causes a baby’s head to be much smaller. it also has several symptoms such as seizures and triggers developmental delay with speech, standing, sitting or walking.

Other symptoms such as a decreased ability in learning, hearing loss and vision problems are common as well.

Pregnant women who contract the Zika virus are more prone to give birth to children with severe microcephaly and the Center of Disease Control and Prevention scientists announced that enough evidence has accumulated to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

“If we don’t get new money, we won’t be able to do things at a pace that is necessary and appropriate to the urgency of this threat,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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