May 18, 2016
Today on the House floor, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers gave the following statement on H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act.
"The Zika virus clearly poses a great threat to public health not only in the United States, but around the globe. It’s become increasingly important that we, the Congress, act to protect our most vulnerable – particularly infants and pregnant women – from the risks of this disease.
"Our response must be urgent, direct, and strategic – targeted at preventing the further spread of this disease.
"The bill before you today provides $622.1 million to fight this dangerous virus. It prioritizes critical activities that must begin immediately, such as vaccine development and mosquito control.
"I was glad to see that the Administration took our advice, and redirected $589 million from less urgent needs to fund immediate actions to respond to Zika. This was and is the most immediate source of funding in the fight against Zika.
"But given the severity of the crisis, it is clear we must do more. The funds within this legislation will continue the Department of Health and Human Services’ and the Department of State’s critical efforts to fight the spread of this harmful disease for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year. This means that, in total, Congress will have provided over $1.2 billion to respond to Zika in fiscal year 2016.
"I’m proud that we’ve provided this funding in a responsible way. This funding in this bill is entirely offset through rescissions of unobligated Ebola funds or from other leftover administrative balances within HHS.
"Importantly, this bill takes a thoughtful, strategic approach to how to address the fight against Zika – directing funds where they are needed most urgently, and where they can do the most good.
"This legislation provides $170 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support mosquito control efforts, disease surveillance, international response, and public education. These funds can also be used for emergency preparedness grants to state, local, and territorial health departments that may confront reductions to their existing budgets.
"Within this total, up to $50 million is available for health programs targeted at prenatal care, delivery and postpartum care, newborn health assessments, and care for infants with special needs related to Zika. These funds are focused on states and territories currently experiencing Zika outbreaks.
"The National Institutes of Health receive $230 million to help expedite the research and development of Zika vaccines – making sure these treatments can be made available to the public quickly and safely.
"For the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, $103 million will be directed to development and production activities for Zika – including for new rapid diagnostic tests and vaccines.
"Our response to Zika must also include cutting off the virus at its source – since mosquitos know no boundaries. For the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the bill provides a total of $119.1 million.$100 million of this total is directed to mosquito control efforts. This also includes funding for public education efforts aimed at reducing mosquito exposure. The remaining $19.1 million is provided to help manage and oversee these programs.
"As I noted earlier, we have taken the fiscally responsible step of offsetting every dollar spent in this bill. To go even further and to ensure accountability, transparency and effective use of tax dollars, we have included strong oversight requirements.
"For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, and USAID are required to submit spending plans to Congress before any funds can be sent. And we have directed $2 million total for GAO and Inspector General oversight. The bill also reiterates current, strong protections against the use of any funds for abortions.
"The White House’s request made none of these oversight efforts – allowing broad transfer authorities across the entire federal government, and creating slush funds with virtually no limits. This bill guarantees that every cent included goes to address the problem at hand – fighting the Zika virus.
"This funding is critical to stop the spread of Zika, and to protect our most vulnerable people both here at home and abroad. Every child deserves the chance at a full and healthy life, and every mother deserves to see her child thrive. This measure will help make sure this happens in an effective, efficient, and responsible way.
"I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5243. Thank you, and I yield my time."