The following op-ed by Speaker Ryan appears in today's USA TODAY:
We shouldn’t be politicizing the Zika threat. We should be fighting it. From the start, the Republican-led Congress has made it a priority to enact smart measures and secure resources to protect the public.
Back in February, we urged the Obama administration to jumpstart this effort with existing resources. Eventually, officials came back to us and agreed to utilize $589 million, much of it already in the pipeline for Ebola response that could be easily re-directed. Yet to this day, hundreds of millions of dollars remain unspent. This is allocated money that the administration fully controls — money it seemingly refuses to spend.
Regardless, we have worked to make sure additional resources are in place if needed. In June, the House approved a plan that provides $1.1 billion in additional funding and includes critical steps — like spraying mosquitoes — to stop the spread of the disease.
One important thing to know about this plan is that it is a compromise. We agreed to the exact level of funding Senate Democrats have supported. Democrats sought to have none of the funding be offset, and we agreed to partially offset it.
Unfortunately, when this plan went to the Senate for a vote, Democrats derailed it. This was despite months of calling for action, and even voting in favor of that exact funding level just weeks prior. They blocked our plan not once, but twice — a blatant ploy in an election year. Because of their actions, this funding is in limbo. It shouldn’t be.
For its part, the White House turns a blind eye to all this. It demands more funding while sitting on unspent funds. It calls for more aggressive mosquito control while Senate Democrats block that authority. It points fingers at Republicans, knowing full well that Senate Democrats are being obstructionist.
Those are the facts. We need the White House and Senate Democrats to drop politics and put the public’s health first. We hope for a change of heart, and soon.