Wyden, Merkley, Senate Colleagues Press House Speaker for Vote on Zika Funding

Washington, D.C.  – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with 27 of their Senate colleagues, sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging him to bring the $1.1 billion Zika funding legislation passed by the Senate to the House floor for a vote. As of today, there are more than 18,000 cases of Zika reported in the United States and its territories.

“Zika is now well established in the United States with cases of local transmission by mosquitoes being reported in multiple areas of Florida, as well as the U.S. territories,” the senators wrote. “While babies die, pregnant women and communities suffer, adults worry about future long-term neurological risks from Zika, and U.S. service members and military bases are affected, Congress remains deadlocked in partisan politics. Now is the time to lead and to show the American people that Congress will act to protect them.” 

In their letter, the senators note the broad bipartisan support in the Senate to act on Zika funding. They cited the passage of the Blunt-Murray compromise amendment to the FY17 MilCon-VA appropriations bill, which included the support of 23 Senate Republicans. The letter also reminds the House Speaker that more than 50 health, public health, provider, and other organizations have urged Congress to pass a Zika funding bill that can be signed by the president immediately.

Current funds to address Zika have begun to expire, leaving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention without the resources to effectively combat the virus. Due to congressional inaction, the White House has supplemented funding to address Zika by reallocating funds from other public health threats like Ebola. This funding, however, will run out in September. 

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Ed Markey, D-Mass., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Al Franken, D-Minn., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tom Carper, D-Del., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo.

To read the senators’ Sept. 9 letter, click here.

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