Senator Johnny Isakson (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Marie Gordon, 770-661-0999
Isakson Supports Emergency Funding to Combat Zika Virus
‘Had we not passed this bill today, we would have an even greater emergency because Zika would have spread unabated in the southern United States’
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that would allocate $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat the spread of the Zika virus in the United States.
The bipartisan bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68-29 and was added as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act (H.R.2577). The funding will provide for research on vaccines and treatments related to the virus, as well as preventive public health measures and improved mosquito control.
Isakson visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), located in Atlanta, Ga., last month and was briefed on efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, which is known to cause severe birth defects.
Isakson delivered the following remarks on the importance of funding to combat the Zika virus on the Senate floor following the vote:
“If anybody in the audience or this room doesn't think this is an emergency, you should have been with Senator [Susan] Collins and I two weeks ago at the CDC in Atlanta. We spent four hours looking at the depiction of what a Zika outbreak is going to look like if it doesn't stop and we don’t abate it.
“There have already been 1 million cases in the Caribbean and Central America and South America, 500 cases in the United States of America and it's going to grow. The faster we get our arms around it the better off the American people are going to be.
“This is a lot of money but it is only a pittance compared to what it would cost if the epidemic got out of control and we didn't stop it and defeat it. This money will go to the Health and Human Services Department, the State Department, the CDC and other entities to provide the education, training and the information necessary to get control of this disease.
“Remember what happened with Ebola. When it broke out and we finally got involved, it was only through the CDC’s ability to contain, educate and control the disease did we get our arms around it and stop the epidemic. The same thing is going to be true of the Zika virus. We need to contain, control and get the education to the country as necessary to see to it that we stop it.
“I commend the Senate on passing it today ... but I want everybody to be clear: This is an emergency and had we not passed this bill today, at month's end we would have an even greater emergency because Zika would have spread unabated in the southern United States.”