Obama: Congress delay of Zika funding has ‘real-life consequences’

President Barack Obama answers a question at a press conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on August 4, 2016. During his weekly address President Obama warned of the "real-life consequences" of delaying funding for Zika and urged congress to make reaching a bipartisan agreement their first priority upon their return from vacation. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) — President Barack Obama warned Congress of the dangers of denying funding for Zika prevention and urged members to make the issue a priority upon returning from vacation.

During his weekly address Obama called on Republicans in Congress to vote in favor of increased funding for resources to combat Zika as the virus continues to pose a threat in the United States.

“But every day that Republican leaders in Congress wait to do their job, every day our experts have to wait to get the resources they need – that has real-life consequences,” he said. “Weaker mosquito-control efforts. Longer wait times to get accurate diagnostic results. Delayed vaccines. It puts more Americans at risk.”

In February, Congress denied Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to fund Zika prevention and management including mosquito control, virus tracking, accelerated diagnostic testing, vaccines and monitoring women and babies with the virus.

“They said no. Instead, we were forced to use resources we need to keep fighting Ebola, cancer, and other diseases,” Obama said. “We took that step because we have a responsibility to protect the American people. But that’s not a sustainable solution. And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus.”

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended the nation’s entire blood supply be routinely screened for the Zika virus.

A total of 43 local Zika infections took place in the state of Florida where governor,Rick Scott, said he would be in Washington to discuss the issue on Sept. 6.

“During Congress’s vacation, we have identified 43 cases of locally acquired Zika in four Florida counties,” Scott said, according to NBC News. “The Zika virus demands immediate federal action and I will impress upon our congressional members the urgency to protect our residents and visitors.”

Obama said a CDC emergency response team has been working alongside public health officials in South Florida, but still urged Congress to seek a bipartisan solution to achieve full funding for Zika treatment.

“A fraction of the funding won’t get the job done,” he said. “You can’t solve a fraction of a disease. Our experts know what they’re doing. They just need the resources to do it.”


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