Alexander Condemns Senate Democrats For Blocking $1.1 Billion in Zika Aid

Praises Senator Burr’s work to strengthen U.S. ability to respond to public health threats like Zika

Posted on August 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, August 13 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following statement after the Secretary of Health and Human Services formally declared the Zika virus a public health emergency in Puerto Rico:

“In July, Senate Republicans attempted to pass a bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to fight Zika by supporting research, vaccine development, mosquito control and social services in affected areas. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats decided to vote against the $1.1 billion in Zika aid, which would have helped protect babies and other vulnerable Americans from this catastrophic virus.”

Senator Alexander continued, “The administration has decided to use its authority to declare a public health emergency, allowing HHS to use response tools that were strengthened by Senator Burr through the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 and its reauthorization in 2013, to ensure we have the ability to respond quickly to public health emergencies and threats like the Zika virus.”

In July, Senator Alexander said the following on the Senate floor:

“This is a very simple disease. It's carried by a mosquito, and if a mosquito bites you, you get the Zika virus. And for many people, it makes no difference. But for pregnant women, it could be a problem. So it is July, and the mosquitoes are out, and it’s time to eradicate these mosquitoes.

“We passed $1.1 billion here for money for Zika and because of a small provision which the House of Representatives put in that has to do with who is a Medicaid provider in Puerto Rico--there are many Medicaid providers in Puerto Rico who can go about this business in July and August and September to deal with trying to keep the mosquitoes away--our friends on the other side of the aisle won't let us pass the bill… There is no excuse whatever for delaying $1.1 billion to help pregnant women and other families avoid the Zika virus this summer.

You can view Senator Alexander’s full floor speech here.