Are Republicans Fit To Govern If They Can't Even Pass A Bill To Protect Americans From The Zika Virus?
Another 6-7 weeks have gone by and the Republicans are still playing politics with Zika. This morning even Politico noted that it could come back and bite them in the ass at election time. "Congress," wrote Burgess Everett, "is poised for an epic failure in its efforts to combat Zika before lawmakers leave Washington for a seven-week vacation-- and it could come back to bite Republicans at the ballot box if there’s an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States this summer." Seven week vacation, while the country faces a truly devastating threat the GOP has let ride while Paul Ryan was busy wringing his hands about Trump, figuring out the most effective timing for the GOP's partisan Benghazi attack against Hillary, and repackaging his old schemes to wreck Medicare and Social Security by calling them "A Better Way?"
The GOP proposal the Senate Democrats rejected today not only stole money from the Affordable Crae Act, but gratuitously threw in some nonsense about allowing Confederate flags to fly at national cemeteries. This is why voters are so sick and tired of Congress-- and particularly so sick and tires of the House Republicans.
The attack ads this time write themselves: Faced with months of dire warnings from health experts, the Republicans who control Congress failed to provide money to stop the spread of Zika to the United States. Bracing for such a message, Republicans began the week spinning the expected defeat of the House-passed bill as politics as usual for Democrats, alleging that the minority party would rather attack Republicans over the issue than pass a funding bill.In May, 3 Florida Republicans-- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Vern Buchanan and Carlos Curbelo-- worried their constituents might lynch them-- since that is the state were Zika is thought to be the biggest and most immediate threat-- voted with the Democrats against Ryan's bill (as did Justin Amash of Michigan). The chairman of the House Science Committee, Texas goof-ball Lamar Smith, wasn't helpful in the Zika matter. In fact, his only "contribution" to the debate was to demagogue against refugees and warn that refugees might be carrying Zika virus. As for President Obama's request for $1.9 billion last February to prevent a major Zika outbreak, Smith has been opposed. And in May ole Lamar voted for the ridiculously ineffective $622 million bill that isn't going to do anything but ruin the lives of thousands of infants and their families. Marco Rubio (R-FL) didn't agree with the approach Smith and Ryan were taking. "There is no reason why we should not fully fund this. Quite frankly, that’s just not going to cut it."
...Republicans say there will be no do-over: Once the bill fails on Tuesday, the Senate will not revisit Zika funding, Cornyn said. They say Democrats got what they wanted and won’t take yes for the answer... The stalemate comes in the midst of the summer mosquito season, when the Zika threat is strongest.
|It's time for Lamar to Smith to move along|
The Texas progressive running for the Austin-San Antonio district congressional seat Smith holds, Tom Wakely, sees it the same way Rubio and President Obama do-- and is worried that Smith's ideological obstructionism is getting in the way of safety for people in his state. "While departmental waste is undoubtedly a bipartisan issue that warrants investigation," he told us last month, "it boggles the mind that we're having a pay-for discussion in the midst of a public health crisis. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 36 reported cases of Zika virus in the state of Texas. Five of these cases have occurred in counties that are represented by my district. This is no longer a threat we can view with binoculars. It is no longer an issue that can be evaluated in dollars and cents. One of the Texan cases is already confirmed as being a pregnant woman. How many children have to be born with microcephaly before our Republican-led Congress addresses this as what it is, a public health emergency? Where's the media outrage over the fact that we're treating an emergency of this nature with the fiscal scrutiny typically reserved for corporate tax rates or oil subsidies? Quite frankly, the fact that Congress is willing to treat a public health crisis with the same blasé attitude that they employ in their unconditional rejection of a Supreme Court nominee should be a grave warning to the American people. If they're willing to make a point out of a plague, where does it stop?"
The final House bill passed Thursday 239-171, complete with all the GOP-engineered poison pills. Only 6 right-wing Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP in favor of it-- all the regular suspects, Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA) and Jerry McNerney (CA).
The bill needed 60 votes in the Senate today and only got 52. The 48 NO votes included every Democrat but right-wing Blue Dog Joe Donnelly (IN), as well as Republicans Mike Lee (UT) and Jim Lankford (OK). In blocking the bill this morning, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Democrat, noted that "Four months after the request for emergency funding, the House in the dark of the middle of the night, with no opportunity for debate, puts on an otherwise uncontroversial bill, a bill to deal with the virus. It's not serious. Instead, it's another attempt to use an emergency must-pass bill to try to further extremist political agendas. Why can't we grow up and get to the point that we don't want to play partisan politics? We need to stop playing these political games. It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it."
Alan Grayson pointed out right after the Senate vote that "Florida's first Zika-related microcephaly birth was confirmed today. So, of course, Marco Rubio and his fellow Senate Republicans respond with a bill that not only fails to fund an adequate response to this unfolding crisis, but is also larded with poison-pills for Planned Parenthood, clean water protections and health programs. It was a craven abdication of their legislative duty. It has to stop. There's no time left to put politics over public health."
If you'd like to help Grayson get into the Senate and Wakely get into the House-- replacing the two buffoons that currently hold the seat-- please tap the thermometer below and contribute what you can: