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Schatz Urges Congress to Reconvene to Pass Zika Funding

August 5, 2016, 9:35 AM HST
* Updated August 5, 9:37 AM
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An Aedes aegypti mosquito is pictured here. The mosquito is one of two in Hawai'i known to spread several mosquito-born viruses. Hawai'i Department of Health photo.

An Aedes aegypti mosquito is pictured here. The mosquito is one of two in Hawai’i known to spread several mosquito-born viruses. Hawai’i Department of Health photo.

US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Senate Democrats released a new letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan yesterday, urging the Republican leaders to immediately call Congress back into session to pass emergency funding legislation to address the growing Zika crisis.

Since Republican leaders shuttered both chambers of Congress for a seven-week recess—the longest in 60 years—without passing legislation to help stem the spread of the virus, the crisis has become exponentially worse.

The letter, led by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), also notes that since Congress went into recess, at least 15 individuals have contracted the Zika virus on US soil, likely via mosquito, and according to health experts, thousands in Puerto Rico become infected each day, including up to 50 pregnant women.

The Senate Democrats’ letter also reminds Republicans that President Barack Obama first requested emergency funding to fight Zika 164 days ago, longer than the combined 137 days it took Congress to fund the fight against ebola, H1N1 and avian flu—the last three public health emergencies.

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