WASHINGTON, March 4 —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) joined Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and 22 Democratic senators today in calling on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency supplemental request to combat the Zika virus, while simultaneously maintaining the United States’ efforts to address other global health priorities, including Ebola.
In a letter addressed to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, the senators highlighted the urgency of the U.S. response to the Zika virus, but also emphasized that a concurrent commitment to ending the Ebola epidemic is equally critical and should not be undermined or neglected. The senators warned that reducing funding for Ebola research and treatment to address the Zika virus would compromise public health infrastructures and increase health risks worldwide.
“We respectfully request that you fully fund the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 emergency supplemental request of $1.9 billion to combat the Zika virus outbreak, without undermining ongoing efforts to address the Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization projects the Zika virus could affect up to 4 million people in 2016, highlighting the urgency of a coordinated response to combat it. At the same time, the United States must continue to work with our international partners to confront a number of persistent and serious epidemics, including the Ebola virus that has caused more than 11,300 deaths since 2014,” wrote the senators. “Dramatically reducing funding for the Ebola account now, in order to fund efforts against this new threat, would increase health risks worldwide while also sending a troubling message about the U.S. commitment to ending the current epidemic and preparing for future outbreaks.
The letter was also signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) signed the letter.