Bennet has led fight to secure emergency research funding
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and his Senate colleagues today approved $1.1 billion in emergency funding to continue research toward a cure for the Zika virus. The most recent data indicates that in the U.S. and its territories, more than 23,000 Americans have been infected with the virus, including 2,097 pregnant American women who show some sign of infection.
"Finally, Congress has put politics aside to address the very serious threat that Zika poses," Bennet said. "This funding ensures that researchers can continue their crucial work to develop a vaccine that can protect millions of Americans. We're hopeful a cure can be found very soon."
Bennet has led efforts in the Senate to approve the funding, which has been stalled in Congress since the Administration made its request back in February. In May, Bennet joined the Senate, which overwhelmingly voted to advance a bipartisan bill to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Subsequently, the House passed an inadequate and irresponsible bill that included only $622 million, one third of the Administration's request. Bennet has urged both chambers to work across the aisle to finalize a serious funding package, including calling on Congressional leaders to reconvene both chambers of Congress to pass a clean funding bill to fight Zika.
Ahead of the Senate's vote in May, he pressed Congressional leaders to consider and pass emergency 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. 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.