Senator Burr Plays Politics with Zika Threat

Thursday, July 14, 2016
CONTACT: Matt Kravitz, 919.438.1836
Senator Burr Plays Politics with Zika Threat
Burr Policy Risks Women’s Health Instead of Addressing Public Health Crisis
RALEIGH, N.C. – Today, incumbent Senator Richard Burr continued playing partisan Washington games instead of addressing the Zika crisis. While public health experts said that $1.9 billion is needed to adequately respond to this crisis, Burr voted for legislation that underfunds the response by $800 million, plays politics with women’s health, holds back funding for family planning services intended to help women in Zika affected areas receive birth control, and even slashes funding for veterans by half a billion dollars. 
“People are tired of politics as usual and nothing demonstrates this broken system more than Richard Burr’s actions in the US Senate today. He fell in line and used a public health crisis to advance a partisan agenda. Burr actually voted to make it tougher for women in Zika affected areas to get the birth control they need to prevent the tragedy of a baby born with the virus. It’s no wonder North Carolinians are so ready for a change,” said Matt Kravitz, Press Secretary for the North Carolina Democratic Party.
The Zika response package is a part of the Republican conference report on this year’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) Appropriations bill.
The bill pays for Zika funding through a series of highly controversial offsets. These include reallocating $107 million from Ebola funding, $100 million from HHS administrative funding, and $543 million intended for the ACA’s health exchanges. [CQ, 6/23/16]
Doesn’t adequately address the Public Health Ramifications of the Zika virus. The Zika funding conference, which APHA opposed and that passed the House last week, does not provide comprehensive support for the numerous layers of Zika response, including contraception for women who wish to avoid pregnancy. It also takes money away from other vital public health priorities, like ongoing Ebola prevention, protection and response activities. [American Public Health Association, 6/28/16]
Holds family planning hostage as the price for already inadequate funding to address the Zika virus. The Zika funding conference report blocks funds in the measure from going to Planned Parenthood for birth control services for women at risk of becoming infected with the virus. The measure also contains a provision backed by the House that would ease rules on pesticide permitting requirements. [CBS News, 6/22/16]

Republican Bill Underfunds our Nations’ Veterans. “The Republican bill takes aim at our nation’s veterans by reducing the Senate’s level of funding for VA by $500 million, which is $653.9 million below the President’s request. Republicans slashed the Senate’s level of funding for facility maintenance of VA hospitals and clinics by almost $250 million. This level of funding also does nothing to make a dent in these deficiencies and decreases funds available to address VA’s $2.3 billion backlog of high priority projects.” [DPCC, 6/23/16]