Menendez Makes Personal Plea for Zika Funding

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) speaks at a press conference on April 1, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. According to reports, Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) spoke about Zika.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s daughter Alicia six months pregnant with the senator’s first grandchild. She lives in Miami, Fla., ground zero for the Zika virus in the United States.

Earlier this week, the senate reached an impasse on a bill that would provide $1.1 billion in Zika relief to areas in the U.S. where the virus is a growing concern and vaccine research. The failure to pass the bill stemmed from Planned Parenthood provisions. Democrats didn’t want to pass a bill that banned funding for Planned Parenthood while Republicans did not want any funds to go to to the organization. On Thursday, the senate neared a compromise that could help funding move forward. However, a fight is still ahead the House where members have said they are less inclined to favor any legislation with Planned Parenthood inclusion.

According to Menendez, however, legislators must put differences aside in order to help pregnant women and their children. In order to make that point, Menendez took to the floor of the senate on Thursday afternoon to make his case for Zika funding.

“I rise today to voice my concern as an American and my outrage as a grandfather to be about the lack of action to fund our response to the Zika epidemic,” Menendez said. “Zika has come to Miami, Florida, and congress needs to step up and provide the necessary funds to fight this terrible virus.”

Menendez said that Zika is a national epidemic and that the decision to recess congress for the summer without implementing a plan to halt the spread was a failure on behalf of legislators.

“The alarms have been ringing for months. We knew Zika was coming,” Menendez said. “But instead of being proactive and prepared for what was about to hit our shores, Republicans in congress chose to poison our response with right wing, ideological policy writers that prevented us from appropriately addressing this issue.”

Currently, researchers are looking for a vaccine for Zika but if a compromise is not reached such measures will not have funding, according to Menendez.

During his address, Menendez called upon legislators to act now to resolve the issue.

See his full address here: