Zika aid is not a bargaining chip

The Senate and the House remain locked to find necessary funds for combating the Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that could result in microcephaly.

The House diced the Senate’s proposition for funding by half and provided only a third of President Obama’s request. 

To make matters worse, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement conflating pesticide regulation with efforts to combat the Zika virus. He argued that weakening EPA regulations would allow stronger pesticides that could kill Zika-carrying mosquitos.

Such a misapprehension characterizes a GOP agenda aimed at regulating and downsizing the EPA, a rhetoric that could have dangerous implications for Americans. 

U.S. Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently met with researchers and health officials to determine the best strategy to eradicate the spread of the Zika virus. These kinds of discussions are particularly important because they demonstrate the need for collaboration and the importance of emergency preparedness. 

We believe that congressional response to the Zika virus ought to be more robust. It is erroneous to treat the issue of Zika lightly, especially when the virus has the potential to harm many people. Further, the issue of public health is not a bargaining chip or a trade-off point for political gain.

Congress must provide the necessary funding to facilitate the creation of an appropriate vaccine and treatment. Granting funding to various emergency epidemic groups will ensure that people are educated about the risks and methods of prevention for the disease.