Editorials

Congress ignores Zika threat

Carlos Varas, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, uses a Golden Eagle blower to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on August 2, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There is a reported 14 individuals who have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes.
Carlos Varas, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, uses a Golden Eagle blower to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on August 2, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There is a reported 14 individuals who have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes. Getty Images

Most Americans are sick of congressional gridlock. Now some Americans may get sick because of it.

The inability of Congress to grant the Obama administration’s request for more funding to fight the Zika virus may be contributing to its spread into the United States from Latin America.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a travel warning for an area just north of downtown Miami where 10 people were found to be infected.

President Obama asked in February for $1.9 billion to fight Zika, but Congress failed to act after getting entangled in disputes over the size of the funding and demands that funds be diverted from other health care programs. Congress is on break until after Labor Day, and Republican leaders do not support returning to Washington to pass special funding. The administration is transferring money from other funds to control the virus, but money for developing a vaccine is running out.

U.S. Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat who supports more funding, attended a Research Triangle Park discussion on Zika where he said researchers told him Congress’ “shortsighted and politicized strategy continues to frustrate their efforts.”

Congress should move immediately to ensure that the virus is contained and that researchers can fully pursue a vaccine.

Correction: A previous version of this editorial said the House failed to pass Zika bill. The House did pass a $1.1 billion bill June 23, but Senate Democrats derailed it in the Senate because the bill included $750 million in cuts to other health care programs.

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