Categorized | Government, Health, News

Rep. Gabbard and Sen. Hirono urge support of emergency funding to combat the Zika virus


Washington, DC — Tuesday (May 17), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and more than 120 lawmakers urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to take action to combat the Zika virus by bringing the President’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to the House floor. The letter sent to Speaker Ryan today states:

“We write to you today to express our extreme concern over the increasing threat posed by the Zika virus. As you know, there are significant challenges associated with combating Zika, and we must act swiftly to ensure that we have all of the necessary tools at our disposal, including robust funding to support research and response efforts. That is why we support the administration’s full request of $1.9 billion in emergency appropriations to combat this international public health threat. We strongly urge you to bring such legislation to the floor.

“In recent months, it has become evident that we do not have a comprehensive understanding of the Zika virus—how it works and what its immediate and long-term health implications are. As it continues to spread, it is imperative that we make immediate, sustained investments in research that, hopefully, will yield a Zika vaccine, diagnostic method and guide our continued response strategy. We are encouraged by the research being done across the country, including in many of our districts, but there is still much we do not understand. Until we have these answers, we must prioritize robust funding for Zika research.

“Zika has spread rapidly in other parts of the world and we are seeing the same pattern here in the U.S. There are at least 503 reported cases of Zika in the U.S. to date and at least 701 reported cases in U.S. territories. Among these, pregnant women account for 113 cases. This number will continue to rise until Congress acts. Given the neonatal neurological implications of this virus, it is unconscionable to further delay action on this very critical issue.

“We must not underestimate just how destructive invasive pests and diseases can be. We are gravely concerned about the implications of this virus and, for this reason, research and response efforts have our full and steadfast support. We urge you to give this your full and fast consideration and ask that you bring to the floor legislation to provide $1.9 billion in emergency appropriations for Zika.”


WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senator Mazie K. Hirono Tuesday (May 17) voted in support of more than $1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. The Senate advanced a $1.1 billion bipartisan compromise amendment to the appropriations bill currently being debated on the Senate floor. While the funding is short of the Administration’s $1.9 billion emergency request, the compromise measure will lay a foundation to fight Zika without including cuts to other important public health initiatives as Republicans had proposed.

“Over 500 Americans have contracted the Zika virus while travelling this year, and with the summer months almost upon us, it is only a matter of time before we see a locally-acquired case,” said Senator Hirono. “While I am a co-sponsor of legislation to fund the President’s full emergency request, the compromise measure advanced today is a good first step to provide states and counties in Hawaii with the vector control, research, and education resources needed to fight Zika. We must remain vigilant and keep ahead of Zika, which has the potential to be a major public health crisis.”

Earlier today, Senator Hirono took to the Senate floor to highlight steps Hawaii is taking to fight the Zika virus, including the work of Oahu company Hawaii Biotech in developing a Zika vaccine. Nine travel-acquired cases of Zika have been reported in Hawaii.

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