WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement after the Senate Tuesday invoked cloture on an amendment to appropriate funding in response to the spread of the Zika virus:
“The Zika virus is not some nebulous foreign threat; it is already on our shores. The Senate bipartisan agreement to fund a more robust response to the spread of the dangerous Zika virus moves us closer to a reasonable response, but it is not enough.
“Hundreds of Americans have returned home after traveling carrying the virus, including at least one dozen in my home state of Maryland, and we could soon be contending with transmission and origination of the disease here in the continental United States. By next year, global health officials believe three to four million people throughout the Western Hemisphere could contract the Zika virus.
“The scientific community, public health experts and Administration officials have advised Congress that $1.9 billion is needed for issues ranging from response and treatment to prevention and research. The Senate’s $1.1 billion clearly doesn’t get us there, nor does the even weaker House Republican plan of $622 million. What’s more, we failed to replenish critical funding to our Ebola preparedness, which the Administration was forced to rely on due to Congressional inaction.
“In the face of a growing public health emergency, it is imperative that Republicans join Democrats in putting people before politics. We were already behind in responding to this global pandemic, and now we are clearly poised to come up short of an adequate response. The American people deserve better from their elected leaders.”