WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, Wednesday urged Congress to quickly provide the $1.9 billion in emergency funding requested by the Obama administration to combat the spread of the Zika virus. During his remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Cardin highlighted the importance of a robust federal response to protecting public health in Maryland, the United States and abroad.
“The Zika virus is a serious threat to public health in the United States. Forecasts from the World Health Organization predict that there could be 3 to 4 million new cases of Zika in the Americas over the next year. Maryland is already reporting 12 travel-related infections and there have been 420 nationwide. As we continue moving toward the summer months and the height of mosquito season, the number of locally acquired and travel-associated Zika infections in the U.S. and its territories will undoubtedly climb. Congress must act and act now,” said Senator Cardin, who, in February, joined the full Senate Democratic Caucus in calling on President Obama to take action on the Zika virus.
“More than two months have passed since the president sent his request to Congress. The Zika virus is not some nebulous foreign threat; it is already on our shores. I call on my fellow senators to come to an agreement on a robust and comprehensive Zika supplemental that enables us to better prevent, treat and respond to the virus both at home and abroad. When it comes to combatting global health pandemics, which know no borders, the Congress of the United States can and must act to protect American citizens and people around the world. We saw American leadership help turn the tide against the Ebola virus. Now is the time for Congress to save lives by allowing the United States to lead once more,” said Senator Cardin.
Senator Cardin is also a cosponsor of S. 2843, a bill introduced by Senator Nelson (D-Fla.), which would fully fund the Administration’s $1.9 billion request for Zika. The bill would ensure that U.S. agencies and departments — including Maryland’s National Institute of Health (NIH) — have the resources they need to prevent, detect, and respond to the Zika virus.