From the very beginning, I have said the Zika virus had the potential to become a public health crisis. Unfortunately, that is now the case, and Florida is ground zero. I believe we need to fund and spend every dollar needed to combat, treat, and respond to the Zika virus, and not one penny less.
Background on the Zika response efforts of Congressman Diaz-Balart and House Republicans:
- February 18, 2016- House Appropriations Chairman Rogers, State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Grangers, and Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairman Cole sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, urging the administration to use unobligated Ebola funds to respond to Zika virus.
- February 24, 2016- Diaz-Balart met with representatives from Oxitec, a company that has genetically engineered the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus to eliminate them. Oxitec is in the process of getting FDA approval to release these mosquitoes in affected areas.
- May 11, 2016- Reps. Diaz-Balart, Curbelo, and Bilirakis met with Governor Rick Scott to discuss the threat of Zika.
- May 16, 2016- Appropriations Chairman Rogers introduces H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act.
- May 18, 2016- Diaz-Balart voted for H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act. This bill would have made $622 million in unused Ebola funds and HHS non-recurring expenses available immediately to fight Zika.
- May 25, 2016- Diaz-Balart voted for H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act, which would eliminate a duplicative regulatory process when using pesticides already approved by relevant agencies.
- June 15, 2016- Diaz-Balart attended a Florida Delegation Hearing on Zika Outbreak Preparedness to hear from Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC; Dr. Mario Stevenson, Chief of Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami; and Mr. T. Wayne Gayle, Executive Director of Lee County Mosquito and Hyacinth Control Districts.
- June 23, 2016- Diaz-Balart voted to approve the conference report for H.R. 2577, which included $1.1 billion in funding for Zika. The conference report passed the House, but has been blocked in the Senate.
- June 25, 2016- Diaz-Balart met with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to hear about the CDC’s needs for Zika funding and how he could be helpful as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
- July 14, 2016- House Appropriations Chairman Rogers, along with Senate Appropriations Chairman Cochran, led a letter to the White House, urging immediate action to respond to the Zika crisis. Earlier that day, for the second time, Senate Democrats blocked the House approved bill that would provide immediate funding to address Zika.
- July 29, 2016- First cases of locally acquired Zika in the United States are announced. These cases were acquired in Wynwood, Florida.
- August 2, 2016- Diaz-Balart joined the Florida delegation in a letter to CDC Director Frieden, urging him to reconsider the funding allocation given to Florida in Zika-specific funds.
- August 4, 2016- Reps. Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen participated in a meeting with Governor Scott, Senator Rubio, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, CDC Director Frieden, and Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip.
- August 5, 2016- Reps. Diaz-Balart and Clawson sent a letter to Senate leadership, urging them to take whatever action was available to them to get a funding bill passed immediately.
- August 19, 2016- Locally transmitted cases increase to 35 in Florida, and a second zone of local transmission has been identified in Miami Beach, Florida.
- September 2, 2016- Rep. Diaz-Balart received briefings from local mosquito control leaders in Collier, Hendry, and Miami-Dade Counties.