This August much of the country is experiencing an uncomfortable heat wave, but in southeast and south central Missouri it is just something we expect every year. And, while the temperature and humidity make it uncomfortable to be outside it is also an important time of our growing season. However, one thing most everyone wishes we could do without is the mosquitos. Often “wearing” a few mosquito bites is normal in August, but with the threat of the Zika virus now on the rise, having a few mosquito bites is more dangerous than ever.
In February pictures of babies infected with Zika and reports of the Zika virus hitting American soil circulated throughout the country and Americans began to panic. There was even a great deal of concern among some Olympic athletes traveling to Brazil. In response to this, Republicans in Congress began to come up with ways to protect the public from the devastating effects of the Zika virus. Republicans called on the Obama Administration in February to use existing funds that were originally allocated to combat the Ebola virus to fund research that would combat the Zika virus. This seemed a commonsense solution to move quickly and address the issue with the use of existing and readily available resources.
When the Administration said “No” and took to the airwaves to blame Congress for inaction, I along with my colleagues in the House, took another step towards protecting the health of Americans by re-appropriating additional funds to fight the spread of the virus. At the time our effort was supported on both sides of the aisle in the House because protecting the health of Americans is an issue that Republicans and Democrats agree is a top priority for the safety of Americans across the country.
However, when the legislation reached the Senate, Senate Democrats blocked funding to combat the Zika virus not once, but twice because they did not want the reallocated funds to be taken from Obamacare and subsequently abortion providers. Additionally, the Obama Administration has aided the effort that has failed the American people by delaying the use of the nearly $600 million set aside for the Zika virus. Even worse, at the same time they were withholding money they were given to combat Zika, the White House criticized Republicans for not doing enough to stop the spread of Zika while his own Center for Disease Control called for more mosquito spraying in Puerto Rico to prevent the spread.
It is no wonder why folks are furious with Washington, DC. Stunts like this to withhold funding and prevent real public health concerns simply to score political points is unacceptable. And, it is clear that Senate Democrats and the White House care more about this political posturing during our election season than standing up to fight for people across the country. Further, it is a blatant example of the disconnect and sense of entitlement this Administration and their Democrat allies in the U.S. Senate have over the American people.
I just wrapped up a farm tour that took me across all 30 counties of Missouri’s 8th Congressional District and something like the Zika virus could effect any of the communities in which we visited. I can assure you that I will continue to fight against these lawmakers that are putting our health at risk. It is outrageous that Democrats are putting politics before the health of Americans and it must be stopped because as we know it all starts with “We the People”.
Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit https://jasonsmith.house.gov