Congress Healthcare Zika Virus

Obama’s Fault

The Obama administration requested over $1 billion in funding from Congress to fight the Zika virus which the CDC has called "scary," but our Republican Overlords in both chambers flatly rejected the president's request and refused to even hold a vote on it.

Republican congressmen told the White House they should redirect funding that was appropriated to fight Ebola and use it in the fight against Zika and, recognizing the gravity of the threat and faced with few options, the White House did exactly that. Funds that were appropriated to fight Ebola have been redirected, but unfortunately it's nowhere near amount of money that is necessary to fight the Zika virus.

With all of that said, Republicans are now blaming the White House for the Republican refusal to appropriate funds to fight the Zika virus.

We’re trying to get the administration to tell us precisely what amount they need and for what purpose. We simply can’t get that information,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the head of the House Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday. [...]

“We’re prepared to try to do a supplemental bill, if it’s needed. But we can’t decide whether it’s needed or not because we can’t get the information from the government,” Rogers said. [...]

[Rogers] said he still wants to know exactly “what they need it for, how much, where, and why they can’t use the money they already have.”


The White House actually did submit a specific and "precise" request to Congress for funding which Republicans rejected. The White House is using the money they already have.

If Chairman Rogers and his colleagues feel they don't have enough information, they could always hold a hearing on it or, you know, pick up the goddamn phone.

While Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers and some of this colleagues float the idea of granting the president's request in a supplemental spending bill, such a bill would not be considered until next Fall ahead of the election according to Rogers. He would know.

Given that the Zika virus can be carried by mosquitoes, waiting until after the hot Summer months to fully fund the fight against the virus doesn't seem to me like a great idea. And there's no guarantee Republicans will ever appropriate those funds.

You may recall that Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, said they would appropriate funds to fight the virus in a bipartisan fashion several months ago, but they never did. Republican leadership changed their minds and told the White House to use funds leftover from the fight against Ebola.

Now here's where things become extra hilarious.

House Republicans are floating the idea of passing this supplemental funding bill to fight the Zika virus as part of a continuing resolution at the end of the current fiscal year. What does that mean? It means they don't expect to fully fund the government for the next fiscal year beginning October 1st. It means they suspect, just as I do, that they will not manage to pass their own budget and probably won't even be able to pass several crucial appropriations bills.

The only reason a continuing resolution would be considered right now in April is if they don't expect they'll be able to fund the government by October.

Just what the hell do they plan to do over the next 6 months?