GOP Cure For Zika: Poison Pills

Thursday I received an e-mail from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren – well probably me and thousands of other people. I’m glad I did. I always like to hear from Warren. She is exceptionally intelligent; I respect her opinion and love her input. In this particular instance she reminded me of a Republican transgression that had gotten lost in the shuffle. Today I’d like to cover it with you.


At 3:10 am on June 23, 2016 the House of Representatives passed HR 2577 by a vote of 239-171-24. Of the 239 ayes 233 were Republicans. Now let’s put the information in context.


In October of 2015 President Obama asked Congress to appropriate $1.9 billion to fight the threat of the Zika virus. The Republican leadership that controls the House took the threat to Americans health “so seriously” that they did absolutely nothing until they needed something to upstage the Democratic sit-in in the well of the House chamber to highlight inaction on gun regulation despite a plethora of mass shootings. Something that had been ignored for nine months suddenly became an urgent; wee hours of the morning issue. Interesting; but the story doesn’t end there.


You see, what was once the Party of Lincoln that had risked everything to do what was morally right couldn’t pass a clean funding bill to fight a disease for which there was no known cure or vaccine. No, it had to include several poison pills that would insure the legislation couldn’t get out of the Senate and if it somehow escaped that chamber would be met with a Presidential veto.


HR 2577 contained a provision that would have stripped all birth control funding from Planned Parenthood; more unwanted pregnancies – just what America and its economy needs.


The funding in the bill came largely came from the Ebola Response Fund. The world, at least temporarily, won that fight. In the minds of the GOP it is prudent to now just completely forget it ever existed. I’m glad this edition of the Republican Party wasn’t around when America fought polio in my youth!


HR 2577 gutted funding for the exchanges in Obamacare. The Republicans never miss a chance to attack Obamacare no matter the risk to America. I can’t think of an unrelated provision they could have put in the bill that would be more certain to be greeted by an Obama veto.


The bill revoked substantial parts of the Clean Water Act. One of the few things we know about Zika is that clean water doesn’t cause it. However ecological regulations are seen as an avoidable cost to many GOP financiers. The modern Republican motto: always take care of the big donors before the population.


The “patriotic” Republicans were even willing to take $500 million from the VA. I didn’t realize our veterans programs were overfunded and that the vets caused Zika.


The most stunningly unrelated poison pill was a provision that would have negated recent legislation prohibiting the flying of large confederate flags in veterans’ cemeteries. I guess dumb Democrats like me didn’t know the stars and bars were Zika vaccines.


Zika is now present in America, including on the mainland. Congress went on its summer break to campaign without funding the research necessary to combat this health threat. The House is controlled by Republican Paul Ryan; the Senate by Republican Mitch McConnell. Ryan has the votes in his caucus to get any legislation passed in his chamber. McConnell has the votes at his command to pass anything he wants to in the Senate as long as the Democrats don’t choose to filibuster it. The Democrats would not filibuster a clean Zika funding bill! In fact they would vote for it.


How America will rid itself of the threat of Zika is something I do not know. Scientists do not even know its complete cause and means of transmission at this writing. I do know that Republican majorities in the nation’s (and many state) capitols pose a serious threat to America. We need to start the eradication process this November!


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