Brodie Farquhar: Zika is real
Zika is coming.
I recognize the similarities (and differences) between the above statement/warning and Game of Throne’s “Winter is coming,” but Zika is real and in the process of invading the United States. There will be hob to pay — specifically, $10 million in lifetime costs for every Zika-infected child, born with microcephaly, or tiny heads and brains.
It didn’t, and doesn’t, have to be this way.
As political scientist Norm Orstein said to a Seminars audience earlier this month, Congress has failed to take action against the Zika threat, opting to go on extended vacation, without passing a bill that would have provided funds to control the mosquitoes that spread the disease, work on a vaccine and provide contraceptives to women who might otherwise get pregnant, get bit by an infected mosquito and thereby become infected with the Zika virus and possibly give birth to a child born with microcephaly.
More specifically, it was the Republican-led Congress that created this situation. The Center for Disease Control had recommended a $1.8 billion program that would address the Zika-virus threat.
A responsible legislature would have quickly passed a clean bill, following CDC recommendations. Instead, House Republicans loaded a bill with poison-pill riders — language that would be deliberately offensive to their Democratic peers in the House and Senate.
It was bad enough that the Republicans cut $800 million from the Obama administration request — they had to restrict the ability of Planned Parenthood from providing contraceptive services. In effect, that poison pill puts hundreds and thousands of women at risk of bearing a Zika-infected child.
Unsurprisingly, the Senate Democrats blocked the bill. And the Republicans are gleefully blaming the Dems, when they know darned well that their poison pills would produce just such a result.
Republicans, like Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, are responsible if Zika becomes a pandemic in the U.S. The responsible step, would be straight up or down votes on the CDC request, and no more game playing or holding unborn babies as political hostages.
There will be, I fear, Zika babies in our near future. I hope the families of these babies send $10 million bills to individual Republican legislators, who’ve either allowed or encouraged this tragedy. That, or remember this come the general elections in November.
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