(Washington, DC — May 25, 2016) – As the spread of the Zika virus gets closer and closer to the United States, one might think that its elected officials, sworn to “promote the general welfare” of the country’s citizens, might want to take action.
To date, Congressional action has taken the form of partisan gridlock and ineptitude.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a health emergency on February 1, further illustrating Congressional intransigence.
The Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, was first detected in Brazil in May 2015. Rarely fatal, symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. However, the most serious medical condition remains its link to Microcephaly, a severe and rare brain defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads, and in the vast majority of cases, damaged brains. Pregnant women who become infected during their first trimester face a 13% chance that their fetus will develop the condition.
The Senate has agreed to President Obama’s (D-IL/Kenya) request for $1.9 billion in new funding, but the House of Representatives is another matter. It has passed legislation totaling only $622 million, and that money is simply redirected from previously authorized funds for programs such as Ebola.
In addition to the bait-and-switch bookkeeping, the House’s legislation also weakens the Clean Water Act. Currently, pesticide companies which spray near water must get permits to do so. The newly-named Zika Vector Control Act, previously known as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, eliminates this “burden” from the sprayers.
The pesticide industry spends $30 million annually to lobby Congress.
Public health officials are not amused at Congress’ attitude.
“The only way Congress is going to care is if one of their relatives or friends gets ill from Zika,” said a National Institutes of Health (NIH) spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We’ve done all we can at our end. We added the Zika virus as a Medical Subject Heading [MeSH] term so they can search the medical literature through MEDLINE . What more do people want? I wish they’d stop calling us!”
For the record, a FLATLINE Subject Heading (FLESH) term for the Zika virus is available.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) weighed in on the Congressional legislative bottleneck.
“The Senator favors keeping our nation’s water supply clean, but he’s also for repealing the burdensome and unnecessary regulations harming his malevolent overlords – uh, average, ordinary, everyday Americans,” said a McConnell spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Except for Flint [MI]. Where their water supply is concerned, Flint is screwed.”
“Turtlehead talks the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk,” said a political scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s no secret why McConnell is in favor of the House’s legislation. Less spraying means more mosquitoes, and more mosquitoes means a better diet for him. It’s win-win for old Turtlehead.”
Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Donald Trump, who has given little or no indication of any concrete policies or proposals for a potential Trump administration, also chose to weigh in on the Zika virus issue.
“The Donald is going to build a great, big, beautiful wall of bug zappers, OK?” said a Trump spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And, since Brazil started this whole thing, Brazil is going to pay for it, OK? If necessary, Mr. Trump is willing to start a trade war with the mosquitoes and slap tariffs on them. And while he doing that, he’ll be creating a big, beautiful vaccine against the Zika virus, OK?. He guarantees it!”
At press time, it wasn’t clear if Squirrelhead Donald understood that the disease in question is the Zika virus – as opposed to the similarly-named Zira virus.
“It’s been well-established that Trump is the progeny of an orangutan,” said a political scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “So it’s a given that Trump is obsessed with stopping the Zira virus. That’s the one where talking apes, orangutans, and chimpanzees from 2,000 years in the future take over the planet. At this moment, he’s the only talking orangutan around, not to mention the keeper of the 29th Scroll. It’s unlikely he’d want to give that up.”
For the record, a FLESH term for the Zira virus is available.