May 19, 2016


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) issued the following statement after his vote in opposition to H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act, 2016:

“This legislation is a woefully inadequate response to a serious public health threat. By providing less than one-third of the funds President Obama requested to protect the American people from Zika, critical immediate needs – including mosquito control – lack essential resources.

“Moreover, due to Congress’ inaction since learning of this crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services has been forced to use more than $500 million allocated for our Ebola response to address Zika. This bill makes even deeper cuts, taking an additional $352 million from our Ebola efforts. While Ebola may not be a fixture in the headlines anymore, it certainly hasn’t been eradicated. Our greatest minds at the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control have emphasized that they need that funding to continue their Ebola research and prevention work. Texas was the first state with a confirmed Ebola case in 2014. Altogether, Texas spent more than $2 million contending with that deadly disease. Cutting federal Ebola funding now only increases the odds that states like Texas will need to foot the bill of future outbreaks.     

“Fully funding our response to Zika is particularly important to our state, as the virus poses an especially high risk to Texans. Mosquitos are already common in our warmer climate, and pools of standing water resulting from Texas’ recent floods provide ideal breeding grounds for the insect’s population to grow. Our underfunding the Zika response puts hundreds of thousands of pregnant women in the Gulf states at risk of contracting the virus, and it increases the risk their babies are born with microcephaly. 

“As the father of two young children, one just months old, I cannot imagine the pain families whose kids have microcephaly endure. It is a brutal condition, cutting life expectancy and often robbing children of their ability to see, hear, walk, or talk. It’s financially debilitating too – treatments can cost more than $10 million over a child’s life. How can we in Congress not provide the resources necessary to save children and their families from this fate? 

“For the sake of Americans’ health and wellbeing, I sincerely hope we have the opportunity to vote on a more responsible Zika funding bill in the near future.”

H.R. 5243 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of  241 to 184.