Nelson, Rubio and the gridlock over Zika
Partisan fighting over Zika continues on Capitol Hill and there’s little sign of a resolution before lawmakers take off on another recess.
Today, Sen. Bill Nelson called for consideration of a $1.1 billion funding bill that already passed the Senate. "We now have 13 more cases, bringing a total in our state to 276, which includes 43 pregnant women – and that’s just one of the 50 states in the union,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “At what point does the majority and the majority leader decide to stop playing these games and simply do what is needed?”
Sen. Mitch McConnell objected to unanimous consent, shutting down Nelson.
Sen. Marco Rubio has also called for action and tomorrow will convene a Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on Zika. But Democrats are trying to paint Rubio as part of the problem. Today, Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and Florida Democrats issued releases asserting that Rubio only began to care about the issue as prepared to announce he was running for re-election. Rubio first raised the Zika issue in late January, however, as this news release shows.
Rubio and Nelson had pushed for $1.9 billion in funding but don't appear to be working closely now. The Senate in May passed $1.1 billion in funding but the House added provisions Democrats say were designed to hurt Planned Parenthood. Nelson then joined Democrats in blocking the bill, which Rubio supported while calling it imperfect.
Rubio on the Senate floor last week: “I truly hope that in the hours and days leading up to our recess, we will find a rapid and quick way forward so we can address this and fix it and give our people the help they need in the short term and ultimately move towards the money we need to research for a vaccine so this issue can be prevented -- so this disease can be prevented from spreading in the future."