U.S. SENATE ZIKA FUNDING SLUGFEST: ROUND TWO!
“SENATE DEMOCRATS AGAIN STYMIE FUNDING FOR ZIKA"
This was this morning’s New York Times headline about yesterday’s vote on a bill in Congress to fully fund the nations efforts to control the spread of the Zika virus and develop a vaccine. Yes, in the body of the article it is explained that – just like last time – the bill that the Senate took up still contained a ban on funding for Planned Parenthood. Now, since the Zika virus is spread through sexual contact (and other ways, apparently) it would make sense that health clinics and particularly women’s health operations like Planned Parenthood, be fully funded in order to contribute to the efforts against the virus. But "now way Jose" say Senate Republicans.
It appears that Republicans didn’t catch the news that the Center for Medical Progress videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts for profit, were actually fake. You know, were doctored to make it appear that PP sells baby parts for profit when, in fact, they weren't. Even during Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) “investigative hearing” on the issue of PP selling baby parts, it became evident – at least to the rest of us – that the whole selling of baby parts simply never happened. (How one conducts an “investigative hearing” when only one side of an issue, in this case Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, is questioned but then I guess the criteria for conducting “investigative hearings” in Congress is different from elsewhere.) I guess they were all watching Fox News. But, of course, that’s not the real reason behind the Republican refusal to scratch the “no funding for Planned Parenthood” part of the Zika virus bill. They are against anything that smacks of supporting abortions, sex education, sex before marriage, gay sex and any form of sex that doesn’t involve a penis being inserted into a vagina.
Here’s what Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to say about the Democrats refusal to vote “yea” on the bill:
“It’s hard to explain why, despite their own calls for funding, Democrats would block plans to keep women and babies safe from Zika.”
Hmmmmmm. Well, okey dokey, then. Maybe folks from Kentucky are a little slower than the rest of us, but as for an “explanation,” how about the “explanation” that Republicans (your party, Mitch) included a poison pill in the Zika funding bill since you knew very well because Democrats so informed you and your party prior to the votes on the bill, that they would never vote for a bill that includes language to deny Planned Parenthood funding. Was that so hard?
So where does "Zika Senate Follies Round Two" leave us? Well, there are currently 18,000 cases in the United States, mostly in Puerto Rico, Florida has 56 homegrown cases, and at least 17 babies have been born with severe birth defects as a result of the virus. The Zika funding that Congress allocated before it left for its summer vacation that totaled $222 million? $194 million of that amount has already been spent. The bill not passed by the Senate this second time around, totals $1.2 billion.
It’s hard to imagine a more clear-cut case of political gamesmanship than this stupid fight over Zika funding. Or downright criminal behavior. It’s not as if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the Center for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t know the potentially deadly outcomes for women and their babies who become infected or how quickly and how widely the virus can be spread. It’s not like the Ebola virus, for example, where there’s still a lot of unknowns about this particularly deadly virus. Not so with Zika. Even Mr. Uber-Conservative, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, has pleaded for help from the Federal Government in stemming the spread of the virus that is now evident in Miami, Tampa and elsewhere.
I guess Republicans haven’t learned the lessons from Donald Trump’s rise. Even Republicans – okay, so not the Tea Party or the Freedom Caucus - are truly pissed off at Congress for its intransigence and lack of concern for ordinary folks. The standoff over the funding of the Zika Virus efforts illustrates this perfectly. And while I know it’s not even a long shot in our upcoming Presidential election, it seems as if until every single Republican is booted out of the House and out of the Senate this bullshit crap will continue.