Tuesday, May 24, 2016

DeLauro Calls on Republicans to Protect Women from the Zika Virus

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today joined Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley (NY-14), and Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28) to call on House Republicans to fully fund the Administration’s request on the Zika virus. Last week, the House passed a bill allocating $622 million to respond to the Zika virus, which is just one-third of the Administration’s request.

Congresswoman DeLauro speaking at today’s press conference.
Click here to watch the full remarks.

Here are the remarks, as delivered:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’m proud to join with you and my colleagues with morning. You have talked about something that is really a national emergency and it is a crisis; it is a health care crisis in the United States. You talked about the numbers, 1400, but nearly 300 of these cases have to do with pregnant women.

We need to fully fund the President’s request. He made that request in February. It is now almost June. What the House provided last week was only a third of the request. It will not cut it.

According to the CDC—no one needs to take our word—according the CDC, pregnant women are already facing unacceptably long delays in learning Zika test results. CDC Director Tom Freiden has said that experts estimate a single child with birth defects can usually cost $10 million dollars to care for. That says nothing about what that child’s life is about with microcephaly—delays in learning to speak, to hear, to eat, to walk. Imagine, imagine the terror and the fright of families.

Some physicians are asking women not to get pregnant—arguing that avoiding conception is the only way to avoid the birth of a deformed baby. Is this the message that we want to give to American women?

Ron Klain, the Ebola Czar, wrote in the Washington Post: “It is not a question of whether babies will be born in the United States with Zika-related microcephaly — it is a question of when and how many. For years to come, these children will be a visible, human reminder of the cost of absurd wrangling in Washington, of preventable suffering, of a failure of our political system to respond to the threat that infectious diseases pose.”

We need to put American women in a place of safety. Do not put them in the predicament of choosing whether or not they should get pregnant—or if they are already pregnant, wondering whether or not their baby is okay.

We know this to our core, when we appropriate money for defense spending or wars, Republicans often say: ‘Listen to the generals in the field. They are the ones who know best.’ Well, we have generals in the field on this issue of Zika. They should be listening to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they should be listening to the National Institutes of Health, and they should be listening to the science community. They have called for $1.9 billion in funding for us to be able to combat the Zika virus. We need to give them the resources that they need. It is the responsible thing to do; it is the moral thing to do.

This summer, every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant will be afraid to go to a picnic, to take their other children to Little Leagues games—or anywhere else—to sit out on a patio. We need to do all we can to ease those fear. We need to stop this disease from spreading any further.

And months from now, when the results of our inaction become apparent, we will ask ourselves, “Why did we delay? Why did we wait?” There are lives are on the line and this institution has the power and the ability to make that difference and to save lives. That’s why people sent us here to do something about it. Thank you.

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