WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Thursday voted to advance a House-Senate conference agreement that would address the Zika health crisis and support America’s veterans and vital military construction projects.
Sen. Wicker said Senate Democrats obstructed the critical funding.
“For the second time this summer, Senate Democrats have let politics get in the way of taking care of our veterans and protecting Americans from a public health threat,” Wicker said. “It is our responsibility to guarantee the safety and well-being of all Americans threatened by the Zika virus. It is also our job to take care of our nation’s veterans. We had the opportunity to do that today and to leave here with a victory for health care and a victory for the American people. It is disappointing that Democrats have delayed this important funding for another two months.”
In May, Republicans were joined by every Senate Democrat in supporting a bipartisan amendment authored by Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., authorizing $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus. The bill blocked today authorizes that same amount of funding. CDC Director Tom Frieden has stated that $1.1 billion would fund immediate Zika-related needs.
Military construction and programs for veterans would also be funded in the conference report, which was included in appropriations legislation that passed the Senate in May by a vote of 89-8. This consists of funding for the continued support and care of 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including wounded troops abroad, in addition to support for the Guard and Reserve’s construction needs.
In Mississippi, eight cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed – each one travel-related. Health officials have reported that the virus can be transmitted through the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which can be found in many parts of the state.