Saturday, August 13, 2016

When It Comes To The Zika Emergency, Even Mr. Trumpanzee Has More Sense Than Congressional Republicans


The headline that everyone picked up on from Señor Trumpanzee's interview with the Miami Herald Thursday was all about his deranged plans for the Guantánamo gulag he seems so enthralled with. Reporter Patricia Mazzei quotes him saying American citizens could be tried there and points out that "under current federal law, it’s illegal to try U.S. citizens at military commissions" and that only Congress could change that. But there was more worth reading, from Trumpanzee denial of human activity being involved with Climate Change to his breaking with the GOP's obstruction of President Obama's proposals to fight Zika.
On Miami’s Zika outbreak, Trump said he would “let some of the funds that they’re asking for come in” to fight the virus.

He would ask Congress to do that?

“Yeah, I would. Absolutely,” he said, in apparent agreement with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Florida Republicans from both political parties who have urged lawmakers to help fund the Zika response. “They’re fighting for it, and hopefully that’s going to be approved very soon.”

“It’s a tough thing to stop anyway,” he added about the mosquito-borne virus, praising Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump supporter. “But they’re spraying all over the place. I see it. And I think it’ll be fine.”
Does he? Floridians aren't as cavalier about it. One running for a seat due north of Miami is Dr. Dena Grayson in Orlando, a progressive with both an MD and a Ph.D and a devotion to actual science instead of bullshit. She's leading virologist who has spent years researching cures for diseases including cancer, Ebola and Zika and her work has been widely published in theworlkd's most significant scientific journals. Even before Trump stumbled into the dispute, she told us that "Health experts "have been warning us for months that it’s not 'if, it’s when' we would see the first case of a person infected by a mosquito in the U.S. We are literally in a race against time, and thanks to the utter aversion of science-phobic Republicans to spend money on anything other than walls, weapons, or war, our efforts to combat Zika virus are falling behind." She wants Central Florida residents to remember that since the Obama administration’s first request for funding-- and its rejection by House Republicans-- early this year, at least 15 babies have been born with devastating and irreversible brain damage, and 479 pregnant women in the U.S. have been infected with Zika virus. "Republicans," she said, "prefer to play petty politics and the blame game, rather than acknowledge the cold, hard facts that are staring them right in the face... The ongoing Zika virus outbreak has been unfolding since early this year in the U.S., and and even earlier than that in Central and South America. Democrats, of course, embrace science and quickly recognized the threat to public health. Back in February, the Obama administration asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in funding to combat Zika virus. Republicans, in predictable fashion, balked at spending money on anything science-based. Since then, over 1,800 cases of Zika virus have been diagnosed in the U.S., but because 80% of infected individuals don't ever show symptoms, the actual number of people with Zika is likely closer to 7,200, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)... Ominously, starting in late July, Zika virus is now being spread by mosquitoes in Florida, with at least 17 cases of 'mosquito-borne' infection already confirmed."

Since Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan have chosen to ignore the pleas of the entire Florida congressional delegation-- both parties-- to call Congress back into session to deal seriously with Zika, the president decided ignore their childish game=playing and just shift $81 million away from biomedical research and antipoverty and health care programs to pay for the development of a Zika vaccine, as part of an emergency.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, told members of Congress in a letter that without the diverted funds, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority would run out of money to confront the mosquito-borne illness by the end of the month. That would force the development of a vaccine to stop at a critical time, as locally acquired cases of Zika infection increase in Miami.

As of last week, 7,350 cases of Zika had been reported in the United States, most in Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ms. Burwell said that 15 infants had been born with Zika-related birth defects. The virus can cause abnormal brain development and other serious defects in children born to infected mothers.

The local spread of the illness in the continental United States, with the first cases reported late last month, has raised the political stakes surrounding the federal government’s response. Hillary Clinton on Tuesday made a campaign stop in Wynwood, the Miami neighborhood that has had a rash of locally transmitted Zika cases, and pressed Congress to return from its five-week break to approve emergency funding to fight the virus.

President Obama and congressional Republicans have been at odds for most of the year over Zika. In February, Mr. Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Republicans balked, demanding a more detailed accounting of where the money would go.

Lawmakers have feuded for months over how much money should be earmarked and how it should be spent. Last month, Democrats blocked consideration of a Republican measure that would have allocated $1.1 billion to fight Zika but included provisions that would have banned funding for Planned Parenthood to provide contraception related to the virus, which can be sexually transmitted.

...“The failure to pass a Zika emergency supplemental has forced the administration to choose between delaying critical vaccine development work and raiding other worthy government programs to temporarily avoid these delays,” Ms. Burwell wrote... Even then, Ms. Burwell said, the additional money will last only through next month, at which point agencies would have to “severely curtail many of their critical efforts” against Zika without action from Congress.
"The president asked for funding to combat an emergency in this state," Dr. Alina Valdes in the Miami-Dade area told us, "and the Republicans-- including my opponent, Congressman Diaz-Balart-- responded by refusing to give it to him without strings attached that would advance their ideological agenda-- interfering with women's right to choice. Rubio was more eager to prevent infected women from getting abortions than in preventing more infections. This has got to stop. This attitude and this arrogance are a threat to the well-being of families here in South Florida. Career politicians seem to think they know more about this emergency than medical doctors and research scientists."

Both Florida doctors, Alina Valdes and Dena Grayson are on the Blue America Florida thermometer below. Their primary is August 30.
Goal Thermometer

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