Must be nice to be able to turn off your conscience, as Republican politicians so conveniently seem to do. (And that’s if they had one to begin with.)
Although Senate Republicans say they tried to do something about the Zika crisis, what they did was keep playing politics after initially agreeing to a clean bill. Then they went home. To relax.
During mosquito season.
The bill they backed would have restricted funding for family planning facilities, even though the virus poses the greatest risk to pregnant women. It would also cut funding to fight Ebola and strip funding from the Affordable Care Act. And just to make sure Democrats wouldn’t back it, the GOP-backed bill also reduced VA funding by $500 million — while removing a bipartisan provision that would have banned Confederate flags from federal facilities.
Republicans just can’t bring themselves to reach across the aisle and simply deal with an urgent crisis. Political posturing always comes first. They insist the bill never targeted Planned Parenthood, although it limited the funding to county health centers and hospitals.
But the initial funding was aimed at Puerto Rico, which was in a financial crisis even before Zika. Planned Parenthood clinics on the island treat young, poor women who may not have access to primary care providers.
Local transmission of the Zika virus has now been confirmed in Miami, but Senate Republicans are still on vacation. After working the fewest days in 60 years, Republicans felt they deserved the longest recess in decades.
Now Senate Democrats are pushing Mitch McConnell to bring Congress back from recess and pass a clean Zika funding measure.
In a normal world, that wouldn’t seem like too much to ask.