News Releases

New CDC information has linked Zika virus to birth defects in six pregnancies in the U.S.  

Murray: “As a mother and a grandmother—my heart goes out to these families. And as a United States Senator, I am extremely frustrated…” 

“With the health and wellbeing of women and babies on the line—now is not a time for nickel-and-diming.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee and a conferee to the Senate and House Conference Committee on Zika virus response, delivered remarks on the Senate floor on the urgent need for a strong response to prevent and combat the Zika virus, after three U.S. women delivered babies with birth defects linked to Zika and three pregnancies did not make it to term as a result of the virus, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. Now that the Senate has moved to conference with the House on legislation to respond to the Zika virus, Murray continues to urge action on a serious emergency funding package, and again spoke out against the House Zika proposal, which would fund only a third of the President’s emergency supplemental request released in February.

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“Last week, three babies were born in the United States with birth defects linked to Zika. Three other pregnancies didn’t make it to term as a result of this virus.”

“As a mother and a grandmother—my heart goes out to these families. And as a United States Senator, I am extremely frustrated that four months since President Obama first put forward a strong emergency funding package to response to this frightening virus…Because unfortunately—the longer we wait to act, the more these numbers will grow.”

“While it shouldn’t have taken so long, Senate Republicans did finally agree to work with us on a downpayment on the President’s emergency funding proposal…But it has now been a full month since that agreement passed in the Senate. And unfortunately, instead of acting on it—House Republicans chose to move to conference with their own underfunded, irresponsible proposal, one that offers just a third of what is needed to combat this virus.”

“With the health and wellbeing of women and babies on the line—now is not a time for nickel-and-diming. It’s not a time for debates about taking from one public health priority to support another. This is a time to act—because every infection prevented is a potential tragedy prevented. And there is no good reason we can’t get a strong emergency funding proposal to the President’s desk this week.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“Thank you. M. President, I’m on the floor today to focus on some really frightening news we got late last week about the Zika virus news that shows just how important it is that we get emergency funding to the President’s desk right away.

“Last week, three babies were born in the United States with birth defects linked to Zika. Three other pregnancies didn’t make it to term as a result of this virus.

“M. President, as a mother and a grandmother—my heart goes out to these families. And as a United States Senator, I am extremely frustrated that four months since President Obama first put forward a strong emergency funding package to response to this frightening virus—Congress still hasn’t sent a bill to the President’s desk. Because unfortunately—the longer we wait to act, the more these numbers will grow.

“In fact, Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, has said that in Puerto Rico alone, hundreds of babies could be born with birth defects related to Zika. There are already nearly 2200 reported cases of Zika in the United States and the territories. And more than 400 expecting mothers are being monitored for possible infection.

“M. President—this is, without question, a public health emergency. And what makes it all the more frustrating is that we have an agreement that could go to the President to be signed into law right away.

“While it shouldn’t have taken so long, Senate Republicans did finally agree to work with us on a downpayment on the President’s emergency funding proposal. The agreement we reached would give communities more resources for vector control, it would help accelerate development of a vaccine, and critically, it would provide much-needed preventive health care, including family planning services like contraception, to families who need it.

“This package has support from both sides of the aisle—all Senate Democrats and nearly half of Senate Republicans voted for it. But it has now been a full month since that agreement passed in the Senate. And unfortunately, instead of acting on it—House Republicans chose to move to conference with their own underfunded, irresponsible proposal, one that offers just a third of what is needed to combat this virus, and drains much-needed resources from the ongoing Ebola response effort.

“M. President—with the health and wellbeing of women and babies on the line—now is not a time for nickel-and-diming. It’s not a time for debates about taking from one public health priority to support another. This is a time to act—because every infection prevented is a potential tragedy prevented. And there is no good reason we can’t get a strong emergency funding proposal to the President’s desk this week.

“Families are looking to Congress for action on Zika—it is well past time we delivered—and I hope we can get this done without any further delay.”

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