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Gov. Scott Presses Congress For Zika Funding

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Gage Skidmore
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

With 70 confirmed cases resulting from Florida mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, Gov. Rick Scott traveled to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to implore Congress to break a deadlock on federal funding to combat the disease, which can cause severe birth defects.

"The Zika virus is now mosquito-borne in our state. Time is up for politics and political debates about a major federal effort to stop this disease," Scott said after a meeting with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Scott also had scheduled meetings with U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday. He is scheduled to meet with more congressional members on Wednesday.

Scott, who has authorized $26 million in emergency state funding for Zika, is spending two days in the nation's capital as Congress appears to be heading closer to including Zika funding in a stopgap federal spending bill.

Scott said the federal government "has managed to get its hands into too many things," while increasing the federal debt, "and yet they can't agree on spending money to stomp out a serious disease."

"It's unacceptable. It's exactly why the entire country is fed up with Washington and the federal government," Scott said in a statement. "This is not a partisan issue. Mosquitoes don't care about party affiliation."

Scott's trip came as the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported a total of 799 Zika cases in Florida, including six new locally-acquired cases and 13 new travel-related cases. Some 86 cases involve pregnant women, who could face the possibility of their children being born with birth defects like microcephaly.

Congress has remained stalled on President Barack Obama's request for $1.9 billion in Zika funding since the spring, even as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported it was running out of money for efforts to thwart the disease, including the development of a vaccine.