Zika funding provides Florida politicians with bragging points, attacks
WASHINGTON - The approval of a budget deal that includes $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus is a victory for Florida — and for Florida politicians who are eager to tout their role ahead of the November elections. Along the way, they illustrated the partisanship that has helped prevent funding from coming sooner.
Sen. Marco Rubio went to the Senate floor for what his office reminded us was his 14th speech this year on the issue.
“This anti-Zika package rightfully prioritizes Americans in Florida and in Puerto Rico and I'm encouraged that after months of working on this, my calls for action have finally been answered and that real assistance from the federal government is finally on its way,” Rubio said. Rubio placed blame on both parties for the delay.
His Democratic rival Patrick Murphy took it one step further — claiming credit while attacking Rubio.
“Since February, I have called on Congress to pass President Obama’s Zika funding request,” Murphy said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as this virus spread in our state Marco Rubio and Republicans in Congress played partisan games instead of getting Florida this vital funding.” (Rubio voted for all versions of the Zika legislation)
In Miami, Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Frederica Wilson held a noon news conference to discuss the funding. Even though Wilson is a Democrat, Curbelo’s rival Joe Garcia fired off a news conference saying Republicans “pat themselves on the back for endangering South Florida families.”
"I am pleased to see that after seven months of pressuring, demanding and pleading, obstructionists like Carlos Curbelo finally decided to do what they should have done long ago," Garcia said in a statement that noted he “has pushed for Zika funding for months.”
And Gov. Rick Scott, who went twice to Washington to lobby for funding, was holding a 12:35 p.m. conference call for reporters