Durbin Warns of Consequences of Inaction on Emergency Funding for Zika Crisis

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Citing a recent New York Times article showing that the rising number of Zika infections in Puerto Rico is surprising public health officials, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today warned of the consequences of inaction by Congress.  Highlighting this recent public health development, as well as earlier findings that the disease can be transmitted sexually and is linked to serious neurological birth disorders, Durbin called upon Congressional Republicans to act quickly and comprehensively in responding to the Zika threat by immediately providing states and federal agencies with needed funding to combat this public health emergency.  
“Evidence given to us by the leading public health defense agency in the United States of America – if not the world – tells us that this is a deadly threat,” said Durbin.  “Dr. Williamson of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said he would not have expected so many Zika-infected donors until late June or early July.  The CDC has estimated that as many as a quarter of Puerto Rico’s population may become infected with the Zika virus this year.  According to the Director of the CDC, this will lead to dozens or hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly this year.  What is the Republican Majority waiting for?”
Earlier this year, Durbin took to the Senate floor to discuss the impact that Congressional Republicans’ refusal to fund emergency actions combatting the spread of the Zika virus has on Illinois and other states are losing access to critical public health resources.  A video of that speech can be found HERE.
Currently, the CDC has confirmed 2,196 cases of Zika in the United States and territories, including 423 pregnant women. In Illinois, there are 19 confirmed cases of Zika, due to travel-related exposure.  While Illinois is at lower risk for local transmission of Zika because the mosquitos that carry the virus are not typically found in Illinois, all states and communities must remain vigilant and prepared to prevent and control the spread of Zika due to outstanding questions and uncertainties and international transportation. The Senate voted last month to advance a compromise bill providing $1.1 billion in emergency funding—$800 million short of the funding level requested by the CDC and NIH – but House Republicans have refused to vote on the Senate-passed legislation. Senate Democrats continue to call on Republican leaders to act now to send an adequate emergency spending package to the President’s desk.
Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available for TV Stations using FTP in high definition here and in standard definition here.