For the fourth time, Senate Democrats have blocked a bill that would have provided funding to fight the spread of the Zika virus. The bill also would have suspended some red tape (for example, it would have “temporarily waived duplicative permitting requirements for anti-mosquito pesticides,” noted The Wall Street Journal.) Previously, Democrats opposed the bill because it would not allow its funds to flow to Planned Parenthood (although the bill did not mention Planned Parenthood).
But after Republicans recently gave Democrats what they wanted on the Planned Parenthood issue, Democrats just came up with new excuses for opposing it. According to the Washington Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
said he met Democrats’ demands by allowing Zika money to be spent by Planned Parenthood — only to see the minority party pick last-minute fights over tainted water in Flint, Michigan, and over campaign finance rules. “It’s almost as if a few Democratic leaders decided long ago that bringing our country to the brink would make for good election year politics, and then they’ve just made up the rationale as they go,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who is eager to let vulnerable GOP incumbents campaign back home.
GOP leaders in the House and Senate said Flint will be taken care of in a water-projects bill now working its way through Congress. The Senate has already approved the money. Democrats wanted a much larger amount of money for Flint than Republicans do, but it looks like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have reached a compromise today on that subject.
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Far more regulatory relief is needed to prevent Zika from spreading. The Wall Street Journal lamented that “bureaucratic intransigence” is delaying the development of a Zika vaccine. Scientist and former FDA official Dr. Henry Miller says that “Interdepartmental buck-passing, big-government sloth, and anti-science ideology are allowing a needless spread of the disease.” Federal red tape has also made it harder for local governments to fight Zika.
The Zika bill provides about $1.1 billion in funds, compared to the $1.9 billion requested by the Obama Administration. It is not clear that any new federal appropriation is needed, especially given the option of redirecting existing unobligated funds. A New York Post op-ed argued that the federal government already had the money to fight Zika if Obama would allow it to be used for that purpose, since it could “dip into ObamaCare’s $2 billion-a-year public health slush fund. Right now a lot of that money pays for nanny-state follies like videos showing how to exercise at your desk and (ineffective) healthy eating programs.” It said federal bureaucrats are thwarting anti-Zika efforts: “Tragically, Obama’s Food and Drug Administration is delaying the release of genetically modified mosquitoes to kill Zika-carrying bugs, [even] though the World Health Organization endorses this new technology, which can wipe out 90 percent of Zika mosquitoes in months.”
Worse, the Obama administration has illegally diverted money that could have been used to fight Zika to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.