Funding for Zika Virus

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 7, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about Zika. I rise with about 100 mosquitoes straight from Florida--Aedes aegypti mosquitoes capable of carrying the Zika virus. This is the reason for the urgency. This is the reason for the fear.

These mosquitoes can travel only 150 feet, but through the assistance of a plane ticket and researchers at University of South Florida, they have made their way from Florida to the well of this House.

Now, they are not active carriers, but they could be. The University of South Florida is one of very few research facilities capable of responding. Through the efforts and leadership of Dr. Robert Novak at the College of Global Health, his team of medical public health and research professionals led an insectary to study control and containment and medical and public health solutions to combat, eradicate, and ultimately find a vaccine for Zika. But they can only do so with money.

Mr. Speaker, it is time to act. The politics of Zika have gone on far too long. The politics of Zika are wrong.

The President proposed a plan that was imperfect. It assumes a 2-year crisis, when, in fact, there might only be a 1-year crisis. It expanded Medicaid for non-Zika-related health care.

Why would we dilute Zika-related emergency funding with non-Zika- related health care?

It proposed construction of capital properties on leased lands with no recapture provision. That was the President's plan.

The Senate reached a bipartisan compromise of $1.1 billion. The House had its own plan. And through the leadership of the Appropriations Committee chairman, who traveled to study this issue, money has continued to flow, but we know that money will end.

Mr. Speaker, people are scared. During the 7 weeks of August recess that we were gone, cases of Zika rose from 4,000 to, by some estimates, over 16,000 in the country, including a new non-travel-related case in Pinellas County, Florida, my home, my community.

There are roughly a million people in that county who are scared, who have fear. In that fear, they are demanding action. And they are seeing inaction. And in that inaction, they are angry. Angry. And they should be.

It is now our job to try to explain to the American people why we know better. It is our job to respond to the fear and the anxiety and the anger of a population concerned about a pending public health crisis concerned about mosquitoes.

You see, I brought these mosquitoes here today to convey that fear and anxiety of millions of Americans and Floridians.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, the fear and anxiety in this Chamber if these 100 mosquitoes were outside this jar, not inside this jar?

Members of Congress would run down the halls to the physician's office to be tested. They would spray themselves before coming down here.

This is the fear of Floridians right here. It is not good enough to work on a compromise for months and months and months with no solution. The time for the politics of Zika is over. The politics of Zika are garbage right now. The fact that candidates are going to spend money on commercials about Zika instead of responding together in a bipartisan, bicameral way in a divided government to a public health crisis that Americans understand, we are wasting time. That is why I am joined by these mosquitoes today.