There are congratulatory posts and plenty of criticism for Congress.
Much of the condemnation comes from public health leaders. They have been working to stem the spread of Zika in greater Miami, while officials in and around Flint, Michigan, have tried to help that city’s residents with their lead-tainted water.
On Wednesday night—233 days after President Barack Obama requested $1.8 billion in funding to fight Zika—Congress approved legislation that includes some $1.1 billion to help Miami manage the spread of the mosquito-borne virus. Many members of Congress patted themselves on the back for the bill’s passage, which will avert a shutdown of the federal government during an election season.
Fox News reported:
Behind-the-scenes maneuvering and campaign-season gamesmanship between Republicans and Democrats had slowed efforts to pass the temporary spending measure, once among the most routine of Capitol Hill’s annual activities.
The American Medical Association issued a terse statement referencing the lengthy delay. It read, in part:
It has been clear over the past several months that the U.S. has needed additional resources to combat the Zika virus. The AMA is pleased that Congress has taken action to provide the resources necessary to help contain the virus and limit any further impact on Americans.
With the threat of the virus continuing to loom, this funding will help protect more people – particularly pregnant women and their children – from the virus’ lasting negative health effects.
For months, the AMA has called on policymakers to ensure a robust response to the Zika virus. The AMA sent letters to Congress in May and adopted new policy in June asking for immediate action to make available the necessary resources to prepare our nation to address the looming threat of Zika.
The statement also said doctors and researchers are prepared to spring into action with resources and information for the public:
The AMA has compiled numerous Zika virus-related items in its online Zika Virus Resource Center, including the most up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted health organizations, to help physicians prepare to handle possible cases of the virus and answer patients’ questions. The AMA will continue to support health care professionals in combatting and preventing complications from the Zika virus.
Fighting for Flint
Funding for Flint’s cleanup of its lead-contaminated public water supply has been at the center of the legislative stranglehold. A post on CommonDreams.org said:
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Michigan), who has been outspoken in his call for Flint funding (and about the cause of the crisis in the first place), said the deal “is a step forward to ensuring that Flint families get the resources they need to recover from this crisis.”
“The people of my hometown have waited more than two years for their government to help them in their time of need,” Kildee said. “We will continue to fight until Flint aid reaches the President’s desk.”
That may not be until December, the [Washington] Post reported, as the House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act must still be resolved, and Congress is about to depart on recess until after the Nov. 8 election.
Michigan Public Radio reported:
If [the WRDA] passes, it’s unclear how long it will take for the money to reach the city of Flint.
As of Tuesday, the city had replaced 155 lead service lines. It’s estimated there could be 10,000 pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains that continue to leech [sic] lead into the city’s drinking water.
Several newspapers published this photo:
Elected officials turned to Twitter to share their frustrations, too:
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) September 26, 2016
And any politician who won’t stand with Flint, MI – whose kids are choking on poisoned water – lacks the moral courage to serve in Congress.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 27, 2016
Helping poisoned children should not be a partisan issue. But #Flint water still unsafe to drink & GOP still holding up needed assistance.
— Senator Jack Reed (@SenJackReed) September 27, 2016