The Obama administration declared a Zika public health emergency in Puerto Rico Friday:
As a consequence of the outbreak of Zika virus and its potential effect on pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika, on this date and after consultation with federal and local public health officials as necessary, I, Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby determine that a public health emergency of national significance exists within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico relating to pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika.
The Declaration comes as 10,690 Puerto Rican residents have already been infected by the virus, including 1,035 pregnant women. The New York Times reports that the number of cases of Zika infection are expected to keep rising through October, and by year’s end, a quarter of the island’s population of 3.5 million will have been exposed.
Senate Democrats blocked passage of $1.1 billion federal spending to fight the Zika virus, putting politics over public health. As Sen. Senator Marco Rubio put it, “It’s a talking point that they want to take into the July Fourth recess.” The Democrats are trying to obfuscate their Zika political gamesmanship by claiming they object to Republican policy and funding changes. Those changes are simply the result of the Democrats having lost the 2014 midterm election after President Obama nationalized the election by saying his policies were on the ballot, “every single one of them.”
Hillary Clinton’s traffic jamming photo op campaign stop in Miami to urge Congress to cut short its summer recess, return to the Capitol and pass emergency funding, the funding Democrats blocked, to combat the Zika virus, demonstrates that Rubio is right and the Democrats’ blockage of the Zika Funding is simply more politics at the expense of public Health.
If Obama and the Democrats really want more money to spend fighting Zika Obama, as requested in a letter from Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and every Republican Member of the Texas congressional delegation could spend the nearly $400 million in unobligated Zika prevention funding the Obama Administration has not yet allocated. Obama could also join Republicans in calling on Members of Congress to stop the Democrats’ filibuster of additional funding for Zika prevention and response measures.