WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives this morning to call on House Republicans to take meaningful action to address the Zika virus by providing the necessary resources to respond:
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“I want to thank Ms. [Rosa] DeLauro who is the Ranking Member on the [House Appropriations Subcommittee on] Labor, Health, [Human Services, and Education].
“This is the story in the Washington Post [on its] front page. It is about the crisis that we confront about the dangers to Americans’ health, about the dangers to young children who will be born with microcephaly. And Dr. [Tom] Frieden, the head of our [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] says it will cost $10 million per baby born with microcephaly. Ten million dollars per child and that doesn't [include] the heartache that would be counted.
“Mr. [Tom] Cole, he’s a dear friend and he's a good legislator. The action you take today belies the representation you have made. What do I mean by that? If there is enough money now, as Mr. Cole argues, why take this action? This was not scheduled earlier this week. This [did not have] a rule until 9:30 p.m. last night. So if your proposition is correct that there are sufficient funds right now, we don't need to act on this bill today. So why, my friends, are we acting on it today? Because the public believes we ought to act, and the Republicans are trying to protect themselves against the attack that they took no action 94 days into the President's request.
“Because if Mr. Cole is right, we need not worry. There's plenty of money available, but [Republicans] know the American people don't agree with that. So at 9:30 p.m. in the dead of night they passed this rule, brought it to the Floor so that they can say, oh, ‘we've acted.’ Nothing, my friends, will happen as a result of what we do today.
“The Senate passed a bill with  votes, $1.1 billion. Not taking from Ebola defense, not taking from other health needs of America as [the House Republican] bill does, but saying this is an emergency. Now, very frankly, my friends on your side of the aisle, Mr. Cole, when you want $18 billion from defense, you have no problem not paying for it—you take it from OCO, which is not scored. No problem. But when the President asks for $1.9 billion, about a 10th of that, well my goodness this is a problem. It's not the Taliban. It's not Iran. We’ve got to protect against that. It is a health crisis in America and we fiddle for 94 days.
“If in fact Mr. Cole’s representation is correct, there's no need to act. But if the actions that they're taking speak loudly that, yes there is a need to tell the American people, ‘we get it, there's a crisis, we're going to act,’ the problem is nothing will happen as a result of this action other than a bill will go over to the Senate with which the Senate does not agree. They passed a bill with  votes. Half of the Republicans, all of the Democrats, said we need the $1.1 billion. Now, the President has asked for $1.9 billion, but what they didn't do is steal from Ebola, steal from other health priorities, and I hear the gentleman talking about how much money is out there, but if that's true, why do we need to act in the dead of night last night and today just as we walk out the door?
“We have not dealt with Zika. We will have not acted on Zika. We haven't acted on [the] Puerto Rican debt [crisis]. We haven't acted on a budget resolution. We haven't acted on Flint water crisis. We haven't acted on criminal justice reform, and we haven't acted on Voting Rights Act. This is a cover vote. Vote no.”
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