Lawmakers and advocates are disappointed Congress is on vacation, leaving town without passing a Zika response plan.
Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are calling on their colleagues to act. In an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Nelson worries Congress is still weeks away from agreeing on funding. The two chambers have competing plans: the Senate is offering 1.1 billion to fight the virus, the House about half as much. Jamila Taylor is a public health researcher at the Center for American Progress. She says the virus is exposing other gaps in the public health system.
“We have low-income communities that don’t have access to healthcare or basic needs. Adding an issue like Zika into the mix could just deepen the cycle of poverty,” she said.
She adds the virus could disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.
“People like you and me and even members of Congress, if we were to get sick or infected with Zika by chance, we have the healthcare that we need. We can go to the doctor, we will have access to testing. That’s just not the case for most of the people that could be impacted by this,” she said.
Taylor says the inaction in Washington is stalling out responses on the local level. Congress will reconvene the second week of June.