Marco Rubio talks Zika funding in Fort Myers

Posted at 7:06 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 19:22:46-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- New cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus are being reported all over South Florida, including one teen who has been confirmed to have the virus this week in Collier County.

But earlier in the year, Senator Marco Rubio said that many members of Congress didn't see Zika as an immediate threat.

"They saw it as something that was happening in other countries," Rubio said Wednesday in Fort Myers. "We explained to them that it was only a matter of time before Zika came into the continental U.S."

Representative Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Jupiter, is running against Rubio for his Senate seat. Murphy has blasted the senator for not doing enough to provide funding to combat the spread of Zika.

"By early April, I was on the floor of the Senate, repeatedly talking about it," Rubio said. "So I'm frustrated."
"Our job is to make sure the funds are available not just to fight Zika, but ultimately to develop the vaccine," he added. "Which is the ultimate way to get rid of this once and for all."

He said that the Senate actually passed a law to provide $1.1 million for Zika research, but that it got tied up in the House of Representatives.

"So the struggle has really been in the House to get them to move with sufficient dollars, and to do it in a way that could pass," Rubio said. "I think both parties have failed in this regard."

In the meantime, the senator says President Obama has access to over $300 million to spend on Zika funding, and has already committed $80 million.