Dr. Boozman's Check-up

This week, Senate Democrats once again blocked a bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and they also again filibustered the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017. This is the third time that Democrats have blocked funding for the Zika crisis and have refused to move forward on critical funding for our nation’s defense.

Both bills are vitally important right now. The Zika funding is urgently needed to provide resources to those who can research and study the virus, and the funds for defense because that is Washington’s first responsibility.

Zika was first discovered in 1947, and until recently was not taken seriously as outbreaks were small and sporadic with little known adverse effects. What was once a disease confined along the equator has quickly become a global health threat that has been determined to cause birth defects including microcephaly, a neurological condition which results in a child being born with an abnormally small head. 

The spread of the Zika virus is a serious problem and now is the time for Congress to act by providing additional funding for health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the virus and its transmission. The more we learn about Zika and its transmission the more alarming this public health crisis becomes, which makes the actions by Senate Democrats even more difficult to understand.

Democrats are blocking the bill because they are unhappy that Planned Parenthood is not receiving funding as part of the package to provide resources to health care agencies and providers to prevent the spread of the virus. This is another partisan, ideological obstruction that is not grounded in the facts. My colleague, Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina, wrote a good piece for Fox News dismantling that nonsensical argument.

CDC Director Tom Friedan has said that the agency is almost out of money to continue to researching the virus. That Senate Democrats have continued to oppose the funding is just another example of the antics they are willing to engage in during an election year.

As is the Senate Democrat’s ongoing filibuster of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill. This is especially troubling because failure to adequately fund our nation’s defense puts us at great risk. At a time when ISIS and other radical terrorist groups are openly waging war against the United States and our allies, we need to be working together to ensure that our national defense is funded and capable of protecting us.

The Senate Democrats' decision to filibuster the defense spending bill is especially troubling considering that Sen. Harry Reid just last week stated that Democrats should curtail use of the filibuster should they win the White House and control of the Senate. Sen. Reid and the Democratic Caucus are engaging in political posturing while Americans are facing tremendous threats to their health and well-being.

It’s time for Democrats to put politics aside and vote to fund the fight against Zika and our national security interests.