Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet called on Congressional leaders to craft a serious bill to provide researchers with emergency funding to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Following the Senate's passage of a bipartisan bill to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding, the House of Representatives yesterday passed a funding bill that included offsets that would cut funding from other public health priorities, including protecting families from getting the Zika virus in the first place.
"The Zika virus is a serious public health threat that has families in Colorado and around the country worried, particularly during the summer months when mosquitoes are most prevalent," Bennet said. "The so-called agreement unveiled yesterday fails to recognize the emergency we have on our hands. This is not the time for politics. Congress needs to pass a bill quickly to fund research to fight the spread of this disease."
The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to advance a bipartisan bill to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Bennet continues to urge both chambers to work across the aisle to finalize a serious emergency funding package to respond to Zika. He has spoken out against the partisan and irresponsible House Zika proposal, which would fund only a third of the administration's emergency request from February.
Leading up to the Senate vote, he pressed Congressional leaders to consider and pass emergency funding before the current funding dries up. While the House passed a bill with only $622 million, Bennet is continuing to fight for adequate funding.
In February, he joined 45 senators in urging the Administration to coordinate an interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad. Following the Administration's request for $1.9 billion in emergency research funding, Bennet and a group of senators introduced a bill to fund the request and called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to quickly approve the funding. In April, he joined his Senate colleagues in urging Senate leaders to immediately pass the emergency supplemental funding request to help combat the Zika outbreak.
Earlier this year, Bennet visited the CDC's Division for Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, where he toured the facility and received a briefing from researchers about their work to combat the Zika virus. In 2010, Bennet prevented funding cuts proposed by the administration that would have virtually eliminated the vector-borne diseases program that is largely run out of the Fort Collins facility.