Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Texas Democrats Advocate for Increased Federal Emergency Funding to Combat the Spread of the Zika Virus in Texas
Washington, DC - (Friday, April 15, 2016) - Today, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) and Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33) led an eight-member delegation of Texas Congressional Democrats in petitioning Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressional Appropriators to provide emergency supplemental funding that will be used to combat the Zika virus. The Zika virus originated in Brazil in 2015 and now presents an imminent public health threat to the rest of the Western hemisphere, especially for pregnant women in the affected regions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed the Zika virus to be a cause of microcephaly and a likely cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neurological disorders. There are currently more than 300 travel-associated U.S. Zika cases reported to the CDC, with the first confirmed sexually transmitted case in Dallas, Texas.
The letter details the urgent efforts needed to aggressively address and prevent the spread of Zika within the United States. It specifically requested $1.8 billion in emergency federal funds to support local and state efforts to eradicate the virus. The CDC recently announced cuts to state and local Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP), including a 10% cut to the state of Texas, due to Republicans’ refusal to pass supplemental funding. Recently, Republican leadership redirected funds provided to fight Ebola for the purpose of combating the Zika virus.
“A re-shuffling of Ebola funding is not a sufficient response to the pressing threat that the Zika virus poses for vulnerable populations nationwide, especially in densely populated areas like the Dallas-Forth Metroplex,” said Congressman Veasey. “The CDC is already deploying an aggressive nationwide effort to educate the public about the threat of the Zika virus and prevent its further spread. We must ensure that local health officials have all the necessary tools to protect Texas residents and the American people as a whole.”
Congresswoman Johnson added: “At a time when we know very little about the Zika virus, we cannot simply shift funding from one emergency to the next. If the White House’s request for $1.8 billion in emergency supplemental funding is not approved, measures to fight Zika will be delayed or even stopped. The House leadership’s preference to take a ‘wait and see’ approach will ultimately negatively contribute to a global health crisis. We must provide emergency supplemental funding because the Zika virus is already in our communities, and we must fight it.”