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McConnell Urges Senate Democrats to Stop Blocking Support for National Defense and Anti-Zika Efforts

McConnell Urges Senate Democrats to Stop Blocking Support for National Defense and Anti-Zika Efforts

Bill Stephens

September 7th, 2016

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Today we’ll give Senate Democrats another opportunity to follow through with their own calls for action on Zika, to support our veterans who deserve the treatment and benefits they’ve earned, and to provide for our servicemembers who sacrifice so much to protect the country and people we love. I hope our colleagues will join us now to finally end their senseless filibusters and help do our part to address these serious issues.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today encouraging Senate Democrats to stop blocking the compromise conference report for anti-Zika efforts and veterans funding, and the defense appropriations bill:

“I want to welcome colleagues back from what I know was a productive state work period. I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that traveling to our states and meeting with those we represent is one of the best parts of this job. It’s also one of the most important. That’s because it allows us to hear different perspectives on critical issues and reminds us of the real difference that good policy can make in the lives of the American people.

“From funding the government to supporting our servicemembers and taking action on issues like Zika, we’ve got a lot to get done in this work period. I look forward to working with colleagues on these and other important issues in the coming weeks.

“As I mentioned, over the state work period Senators on both sides had opportunities to meet with constituents and talk with them about a number of serious problems facing our country.

“From combatting the Zika virus to addressing an array of national security challenges, Americans like those I met with back home wanted to know what steps both parties are taking to help.

“For our friends across the aisle, that must have been a difficult conversation.

“That’s because before the work period, Senate Democrats filibustered funding to combat Zika and support veterans, not once but twice. They also filibustered funding to provide resources for our servicemembers and national defense priorities.

“It’s hard to explain why — despite their own calls for funding — Senate Democrats decided to block a bill that could help keep pregnant women and babies safer from Zika. It’s also hard to explain why — despite the array of terror attacks we’ve seen across the world — Senate Democrats decided to block a bill that could help keep the American people safer from threats like ISIL.

“Our colleagues across the aisle can point to a series of partisan excuses, but the bottom line is this: there is no good explanation for blocking these public health and national security funding bills.

“Over the summer, there were important steps taken to combat the virus. The Administration took the guidance of Appropriations Chairmen Cochran and Rogers, and with the advocacy of members such as Senators Blunt and Rubio, HHS shifted funds already available to them to strengthen our defense against the virus.

“Aerial spraying also started early in August and has produced positive results. The CDC Director has said he’s been ‘impressed by the effectiveness’ of the spraying, noting the ‘substantial reduction in the number of mosquitoes’ in transmission areas. But these issues have not gone away.

“In fact, this summer brought even more cases of Zika, with mosquitoes now spreading the virus in some counties and health officials issuing travel warnings for pregnant women to Miami.

“The summer also brought with it even more ISIL-inspired or directed terror attacks from France to Turkey as well as more concerns of growing aggression from countries like North Korea, which recently test-launched another missile. These instances from the summer further underscore the urgency of the challenges facing us and why it’s imperative that our colleagues end their irresponsible filibusters of these bills.

“So today we’ll give Senate Democrats another opportunity to follow through with their own calls for action on Zika, to support our veterans who deserve the treatment and benefits they’ve earned, and to provide for our servicemembers who sacrifice so much to protect the country and people we love.

“I hope our colleagues will join us now to finally end their senseless filibusters and help do our part to address these serious issues.”

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