WASHINGTON – Less than a minute into his news conference this afternoon calling for an end to politics over Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott swung hard at Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for voting against a funding bill last week that Democrats say is an attack on Planned Parenthood.
"He turned the back on Floridians," Scott charged, a striking accusation lobbed the second floor of the Hart Senate Office Building.
Moments earlier Scott declared: "I'm here because the time for politics is over. The time for political debate has passed."
Scott today began a two day tour of Capitol Hill to press for funding. He did not reach out to Nelson, whom could see Scott challenge him for re-election in 2018.
"In a health care crisis, there is no excuse for partisanship," Nelson said in interview earlier Tuesday. "That's all I can say." In a statement after Scott spoke, Nelson added: "Just as we're about to reach a deal to pass a clean emergency Zika funding bill, the governor chooses to fly up here and stir things up politically. He should know better. This is a serious situation, not a time for partisan politics."
Democrats have objected to a GOP bill that included policy riders, including one they say is designed to prevent money to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. The Zika virus can be transmitted sexually.
Nelson has joined in that criticism but has been a vocal advocate on the Zika issue and has worked with Sen. Rubio, who agrees a "clean" bill should be taken up, even though he's voted for the measure Scott knocked Nelson over. Today, Nelson joined a bipartisan group of House members in calling for more urgent action.