- The Flow of Money to Combat Zika Virus Festers in Stagnant Waters of Congressional Stalemate
No treatment, no vaccine, no cure. Now the Zika virus is spreading faster than you can say DDT and New Mexico’s only Tea Party Congressman, Steve Pearce, has joined House Republicans in their plan to hijack funding that could keep thousands of women and their children healthy.
As of last month, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was almost out of Zika funding, and this week, Senate Democrats were wedged between a rock and a hard place when they made the decision to say no to Zika funding at the tune of $1.1 billion. Saying yes meant accepting an absurd laundry list of items that included but were not limited to the defunding of agencies like Planned Parenthood, approving funds for military construction and allowing federal sites to continue to fly the Confederate Flag. Seriously? The lawmakers we sent to Washington are playing games while the lives of women and children hang in the balance.
The continued attempts to defund Planned Parenthood , either directly or indirectly, pushed by Senate Republicans must delight their House colleagues like New Mexico’s Steve Pearce. He claims to have to tried to help combat Zika, but really he has helped obstruct the passing of a Zika bill for nearly a year, holding ransom the money needed to combat the disease.
“[In the House] I voted three separate times to provide resources aimed at combating Zika. It’s disappointing and frustrating to see the Senate continue to play politics rather than advance real solutions.” says Pearce. What’s, “disappointing and frustrating,” is that Rep. Pearce voted for a big can of bug spray to combat Zika, like this entire experience is an oversized camping trip.
What’s, ”disappointing and frustrating,” is first time Congressman Pearce voted for money to combat Zika, the bill HR 897 came with the caveat to essentially SUSPEND the rules that the EPA had in place that, “Prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state from requiring a permit to discharge a pesticide from a point source into navigable waters (Secs. 2 & 3).” Huh?
The spread of Zika is not about repelling some pesky mosquitoes at a picnic – it’s no longer theoretical the when and the how Zika will land in the United States, Mr. Pearce. The Brazilian doctors who sounded the alarm on Zika and Microcephaly did so almost a year ago when the first cases were discovered in the city of Recife, in what is now considered the epicenter of the disease, where ⅓ of the 4,000 babies impacted by the virus live. There are 1.5 million people suffering the disease in Brazil alone. The Obama administration and some state governments are doing their best, alerting the public, dispatching public health workers going door to door, assigning government workers the task of destroying the various pools and puddles of standing water, and other neglected breeding grounds of the mosquitoes.
And honestly? That’s more than the US Congress has done because they still haven’t passed a bill to combat the Zika virus.
Now that Zika-carrying mosquitoes have been found in New Mexico, women here are likely to join the 2,721 cases of confirmed infections, nearly half of those cases are pregnant women in the United States.
- Normally 61% of Americans oppose abortion after 24 weeks
- But 60% would abort a fetus if it had Zika-linked microcephaly
Mr. Pearce was in favor of a plan to spray everything in sight with unregulated, dangerous chemicals that threaten the health and well-being of people and the environment. Such aggressive, mindless tactics have lead to the destruction of millions of bees which doesn’t matter – if you’re not a carbon-based life form that consumes FOOD and water to stay alive.
While the Congressman says he’s looking for “real solutions,” Rep. Pearce has known about the possibility of the spread of the Zika virus at least since a visit in April, 2016 from the New Mexico Department of Health made a trip to Las Cruces warning of the dangers of this mosquito-borne illness in the region and he has used the possible spread of this virus to New Mexico to try to push through, or deregulate three bills pertaining to the virus. Considering the virus is also transmitted sexually and can be passed along in utero, helping to fund contraception through Planned Parenthood could also help to slow the spread of the disease.
House republicans like Pearce have also tried to help slow progress of Zika research by continuing their unfounded witch-hunt of abortion providers and fetal tissue research. In the journal Nature, a recent article noted that, “a protein that helps Zika virus infect adult skin cells might also give the virus access to stem cells that make brain cells, suggests a study carried out on donated human fetal tissue.” How do we know what we’re fighting if we can’t actually fight it? Partisan politics continues to fly in the face of common sense and science when it comes to Congressman Pearce and his science-denying buddies — this level of ineptitude stings.
What’s, ”disappointing and frustrating,” is the second time Congressman Steve Pearce had the opportunity to vote on Zika funds that might have helped jump-started must-need research, he voted for a trojan horse of a bill called HR2577 goes something like this, “this bill provides FY2017 appropriations for military construction . . . it also provides FY2016 supplemental appropriations to respond to the Zika virus and modifies permit requirements for the discharge of pesticides into navigable waters.” In other words, to get Zika funding you have to give Republicans pork projects they weren’t able to get through the normal budget process.
House Republican leaders refuse to allow members to vote on a simple clean bill to authorize Zika prevention and care work.
Of the most recent attempts to secure funding to continue the fight to stem the Zika virus, Senator Harry Reid said on the floor that, “Republicans were more interested in attacking Planned Parenthood and flying the confederate flag. Can’t make that stuff up — that’s really the truth — than protecting women and babies from this awful virus.”
Thanks Senator Reid for the reminder that one of the three times that Pearce, “voted to provide resources” he also voted to allow federal sites to continue to fly the confederate flag – a divisive move in an already contentious election season, and a year after President Obama signed an Executive order banning Confederate Flags and memorabilia in order to be in compliance with FEDERAL LAW.
Rep. Pearce played politics with the lives of New Mexicans by sabotaging critical legislation with gratuitous provisions. That’s three times he might have done his job for his constituents and the citizens our state but opted to tie up precious dollars with political rhetoric. Three times, he was willing to sacrifice the future of women and children in order to fleece Zika funding, and expose our precious water supply to deadly chemicals. Seems that the Republicans have done their best to stall Zika research, maybe in an effort to run down the midsummer clock. Summer might technically be over, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Today on Capital Hill, event Vice-President Biden made a plea to Congress to do something. Someone’s got to take Zika seriously before another vacation
Winter is coming. But not before several mild and wet days in the forecast for southern New Mexico’s Congressional District 2. What will be left behind? Standing water. A perfect breeding ground for a potential disaster and a festering reflection of the on-going stalemate in Washington.