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Congress' Cynical Zika Game Threatens All Americans

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
September 7, 2016


Wednesday night, Congress offered the nation a spectacle of bipartisan blame -- a crass betrayal of the American public's trust in government -- as it forced the collapse of a bill that would have funded the US health response to Zika. The funding was nested within H.R.2577 - Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017.

In truth, the American people have long rated the two houses of Congress as among the least-trusted institutions in the United States, and politicians rank somewhere close to vermin. But this in no cover for the current outrage.

The United States is in the grips of a real and present danger with Zika -- not a theoretical threat from afar -- with 2,721 cases of confirmed infection, 35 of them acquired from local mosquitoes, 1,595 of them pregnant women, and 16 babies born to date in the mainland United States and Puerto Rico with microcephaly brain malformations.

Wednesday night as members of Congress held press conferences, denouncing one another for failing to pass a $1.1 billion plan to fund Zika virus control and research, the city of New York tested the two beams of light that arise dramatically from ground zero every September 11, symbolizing the destroyed World Trade Center towers.

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