Today, we welcome guest blogger Cynthia Pellegrini, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs at the March of Dimes. She has worked in Congress and advocacy organizations for 23 years.
I’ve been working in and with the U.S. Congress for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.
Everyone in Congress recognizes the threat posed by the Zika virus. No one wants to see babies born with microcephaly – cases of small, underdeveloped heads and brains – or other birth defects. There is broad consensus that Zika is a real issue and must be addressed head-on.
And yet, Congress has managed to entangled itself in partisan politics so thoroughly that they are about to leave until after Labor Day without doing anything at all on Zika virus.
Back in February, the President sent a request to Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika. It’s not unusual for emergency funding to be requested when a major issue comes up unexpectedly in the middle of a fiscal year. Emergency funding is needed because all the other government funds are already allocated to other purposes, and there’s limited flexibility to move those funds around.
But this time, Congress reacted slowly. Over six weeks passed without any activity at all. Even once Congress did start to work on Zika virus, movement was slow and difficult. The House and Senate passed very different versions of a Zika package, and then had to spend weeks working out the differences. Memorial Day came and went, and the July Fourth.
Now there are only 4 days remaining before the scheduled Congressional recess and the political conventions. And there’s no sign of any break in the stalemate.
Please sign this petition and tell Congress that there’s nothing more important than the health of pregnant women and babies.
No pregnant women should have to worry every day that a single mosquito bite may change her child’s life forever. Congress shouldn’t leave for the summer until they have done their sworn duty to protect the American people. It’s wrong, it shouldn’t be tolerated and we need everyone – including you and all your friends! — to join together to tell them so.