Sanders, Democrats Urge Republican Leaders to Call Congress Back to Session to Fund Zika Fight

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan urging the Republican leaders to immediately call Congress back into session to pass emergency legislation to address the growing Zika crisis. 

"The problems the American people confront do not disappear simply because Congress does," the senators wrote. "In the case of the rapidly expanding Zika crisis, the problem has grown significantly worse since the Republican-led Congress went on recess. We urge you to immediately cancel the remainder of the congressional recess and get back to work to help the American public, especially women and families, amidst this crisis."

Since Republican leaders shuttered both chambers of Congress for a seven-week recess – the longest in 60 years – without passing legislation to help stem the spread of the virus, the crisis has become exponentially worse. The letter, led by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.),  also notes that since Congress went into recess, at least 15 individuals have contracted the Zika virus on U.S. soil, likely via mosquito, and, according to health experts, thousands in Puerto Rico become infected each day, including up to 50 pregnant women.

President Barack Obama first requested emergency funding to fight Zika 164 days ago, longer than the combined 137 days it took Congress to fund the fight against Ebola, H1N1 and Avian flu, the last three public health emergencies

To read the letter, click here.