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Murray: “…it’s appalling that given what we know about the impacts of this virus, Republicans would put their partisan ideology on women’s health ahead of getting a response underway—delay for months—and leave for weeks without acting.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor on the urgent need for a serious emergency funding package to respond to the Zika virus. The Senate acted and voted overwhelmingly to advance a bipartisan agreement to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding back in May, which would have helped to “accelerate development of a vaccine, strengthen vector control in communities across the U.S. and the territories, and critically, expand access to desperately needed family planning and other health care services.” Murray again spoke out against the Republican Zika bill currently under consideration, which instead of protecting communities nationwide from the Zika virus, is filled with “partisan ideology on women’s health.”

Last week, the Puerto Rican Department of Health reported a 40 percent increase in the number of pregnant women diagnosed with Zika on the island, underscoring the critical need for family planning and other preventive services.

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“…As this Republican-controlled Congress is headed out of town again—Republicans are somehow trying to claim that they’ve done everything they need to do when it comes to Zika. They’re saying that by putting forward a partisan bill full of harmful and unnecessary policy riders—they can throw up their hands and go home.”

“Well, M. President, that might be how Republicans in Congress want it to work—but the women and families I talk to couldn’t disagree more. They are worried about what this virus could mean for their families, they want Congress to take action, and Republicans should know that Democrats are going to keep pushing until that happens.”

“M. President—what’s especially frustrating is—despite all the partisanship and Tea Party pandering we’ve seen from the other side of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate did reach an agreement on Zika—two months ago—that got the support of every Democrat and nearly half of Republicans.”

“So I urge Republican leaders not to waste another minute—and join us in moving this bill forward. Women and families across the country have waited long enough already for action on Zika—let’s not make them wait any longer.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“Thank you.

“M. President—there are just a few days left in this legislative session.

“But instead of finally coming out of their partisan corner and getting to work fighting the Zika virus, Republican leaders have unfortunately doubled down on a politics-first approach.

“It’s been more than five months since President Obama first put forward a strong emergency funding proposal to respond to Zika.

“And rather than giving that proposal serious consideration, Republicans simply refused to consider it.

“Instead, they found excuse after excuse to delay. They refused to listen to the public health experts, women, and families who made clear Congress needed to act.

“They tried to jam a partisan, political bill through Congress on the way out of town for the Fourth of July—a  bill that included harmful political provisions on everything from women’s health, to the Confederate flag, and the environment.

“And now, M. President—as this Republican-controlled Congress is headed out of town again—Republicans are somehow trying to claim that they’ve done everything they need to do when it comes to Zika.

“They’re saying that by putting forward a partisan bill full of harmful and unnecessary policy riders—they can throw up their hands and go home.

“Well, M. President, that might be how Republicans in Congress want it to work—but the women and families I talk to couldn’t disagree more.

“They are worried about what this virus could mean for their families.

“They want Congress to take action.

“And Republicans should know that Democrats are going to keep pushing until that happens.

“M. President—what’s especially frustrating is—despite all the partisanship and Tea Party pandering we’ve seen from the other side of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate did reach an agreement on Zika—two months ago—that got the support of every Democrat and nearly half of Republicans.

“It didn’t provide the full amount President Obama requested—but it would have made a strong downpayment.

“And it would have helped to accelerate development of a vaccine, strengthen vector control in communities across the U.S. and the territories—and critically, expand access to desperately needed family planning and other health care services.

“Had Republicans been willing to stay the bipartisan course—and push aside the extreme members of their caucus who insist on using women’s health as a political football at every turn.

“That agreement could have been signed into law and on its way to communities right now.

“M. President—I’m deeply frustrated that hasn’t happened.

“This is truly urgent—in fact, just last week, the Puerto Rico Department of Health noted a 40 percent increase in the number of pregnant women with Zika on the island.  

“So frankly, it’s appalling that given what we know about the impacts of this virus, Republicans would put their partisan ideology on women’s health ahead of getting a response underway—delay for months—and leave for weeks without acting.  

“That is why today, Democrats are giving Republicans yet another chance to do the right thing.

“We are urging them to support women and families instead of the Tea Party and Heritage Action, and join us to get a strong bipartisan emergency funding package to communities at risk because of the Zika virus.

“This bill has already passed the Senate.

“Democrats support it, and Republicans support it.

“So I urge Republican leaders not to waste another minute—and join us in moving this bill forward.

“Women and families across the country have waited long enough already for action on Zika—let’s not make them wait any longer.

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”

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