By: Micah Price ~Staff Writer~
Late on Tuesday Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have allocated $1.1 billion dollars to fight the Zika virus in the United States.
In defense of their votes, democrats cited the bill as laden with inessential provisions, such as amendments that would defund Planned Parenthood, allowing Confederate flags to fly at cemeteries where military veterans are laid to rest, attacking the Clean Water Act, and making cuts to Obamacare.
The bill, which required a supermajority of 60 votes to pass, received only 52 votes in favor with 46 opposed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls the Zika virus a “world health emergency.” Spread primarily by mosquitos, the real danger of the virus is that most people who contract it do not display symptoms, which can lead to further spread of the virus through human sexual contact.
According to CNN, the biggest danger is to pregnant women, who can pass the disease along to their unborn children. Zika is linked to the birth defect, microcephaly, in which babies are born with developmental issues caused by smaller than normal mass of the head and brain.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States has warned pregnant women not to travel to countries in Central and South America, such as Brazil and Honduras, where the virus has been prevalent. They are also warning men who may have been exposed to the virus to use protection during intercourse.
The first cases of Zika spread by mosquitoes in the United States have been recorded recently in Miami beach during Congress’ summer recess.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday after the vote, “I’m still stunned the Republican leader decided to have a seven week vacation, and it was more important to do than funding our nation’s Zika Response.”
On the other side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was visibly irate in debate.
“Our colleagues across the aisle can point to a series of partisan excuses, but the bottom line is this: There is no good explanation for blocking these public health and national security bills,” McConnell said in reference to an unrelated defense bill in the latter portion of the statement.
A previous version of a bill to fight Zika received 89 votes in the senate but did not come up for a vote in the house. The $1.1 billion vote was about $800 million less than the White House and Democrats had hoped for. The disease is becoming more and more expensive to combat, especially in Flordia and Puerto Rico.