Rooney Supports Bicameral Funding for Zika Control Efforts in Florida
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17), one of two Florida House Members appointed to the Zika Conference Committee, ensured the final Zika Conference Report would directly send a portion of the $1.1 billion in funding to states like Florida, which has been experiencing active cases of Zika for months. The measure passed with near unanimous Republican support, but unfortunately despite their calls for more funding and quick action, not one Florida Democrat voted in support of the bill.
Last night, the House of Representatives passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Zika Response Appropriations Act (H.R. 2577) final Conference Report. Rooney, appointed to the Conference Committee by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, supported the legislation and secured critical mosquito control funds for his home state of Florida. Rooney inserted language in the bill that directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide a robust level of funding to support mosquito control efforts conducted by state, county, or municipal programs, including mosquito control districts.
In total, the legislation provides $1.1 billion in immediate funding for domestic and international efforts to fight Zika and prevent the virus from spreading in the United States. At the time of the vote, Florida had a total of 213 confirmed travel related Zika cases, 40 of which involve pregnant women; there have been no locally acquired cases of Zika reported in Florida. Rooney has been actively monitoring Zika since reports of the virus first emerged earlier this year, and as a Member of the Appropriations Committee, he and his colleagues met with Administration officials and experts in the field to determine what funding was needed immediately to prevent an outbreak in the U.S. and to determine how much the Administration could reasonably absorb and spend within a short period of time. The Committee’s focus has been to act quickly and responsibly, and this bill reflects House Republicans’ second attempt to give the Administration the money it says it needs immediately.
“I needed to be the voice for people in Florida because we have a number of confirmed cases of the virus and mosquito season is upon us – which means we really have no time to waste,” Rooney said. “I have said from the very beginning that we cannot make public health a political issue and I’m disappointed that my Democratic Florida colleagues voted against providing $1.1 billion toward our response efforts. Public health and responsible government spending do not have to be mutually exclusive. Time is of the essence and there is absolutely no good or practical excuse to vote against – or veto – this bill.”
This bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 239 – 171, gaining only six Democrats voting in support, whom Rooney lauds for choosing public health over politics