Cruz, Cornyn and Entire Texas GOP Delegation Send Letter to President Obama Demanding Answers on Anti-Zika Funding for State
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and every Republican Member of the Texas congressional delegation, sent a letter today to President Obama demanding answers about the hundreds of millions of dollars in unobligated Zika prevention funding the Administration has reportedly not allocated yet. The delegation letter also asks how much funding the Administration plans to set aside specifically for anti-Zika efforts in Texas. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.1 billion bipartisan, compromise bill funding Zika prevention efforts, which was blocked twice by Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
“Many news outlets are now reporting that nearly $400 million of this funding remains unspent. In other words, your Administration has not used all available tools to protect our constituents and the American People from the threat of the Zika virus,” the Texas Republican delegation wrote.
“In addition to our request that your Administration take increased measures to combat the Zika virus using existing available funds, we hope that you will join us in calling on Members of Congress to stop the filibuster of additional funding for Zika prevention and response measures.”
The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn; U.S. Reps. Brian Babin, Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, John Carter, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Blake Farenthold, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Jeb Hensarling, Will Hurd, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Michael McCaul, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, Ted Poe, John Ratcliffe, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith, Mac Thornberry, Randy Weber, and Roger Williams.
The letter can be read in its entirety here and below:
August 5, 2016
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama,
We write to express serious concerns regarding your Administration’s failure to allocate nearly $600 million in available funding for Zika response efforts. As you know, the Zika virus is expected to have a significant impact on Texas given its gulf coast location, warm climate, and recent flooding. For these reasons, we hope that your Administration will increase its efforts to combat the Zika virus in Texas with the resources already available.
On April 6, 2016, your Administration used existing legal authorities to repurpose $589 million of available funds for Zika response activities. However, many news outlets are now reporting that nearly $400 million of this funding remains unspent. In other words, your Administration has not used all available tools to protect our constituents and the American People from the threat of the Zika virus. Given your Deputy Press Secretary’s recent comments that “the keys here are sitting with Congress, and they have to turn them to release more federal funding,” as well as your past comments that “the money is stuck in Congress,” we are concerned that you and your Administration are attempting to give a false impression and shift the blame for failed leadership in combatting the Zika virus. For this reason, we ask that you provide prompt answers to the following questions:
1. To date, how much of the $589 million reprogrammed for Zika response efforts remains available?
2. What amounts have been allocated, to what agencies, and for what purposes?
3. How much has been distributed to states or localities through grants or other means, and for what purposes?
4. How much of this funding does your Administration plan to spend for Zika prevention and response efforts in the State of Texas?
5. What is the timeframe for distributing remaining available funds?
6. How much remains unobligated from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Ebola Economic Support Funds (ESF)?
Despite the fact that your Administration has failed to deploy the $589 million in existing available Zika response funds, Congress has made significant efforts to supplement these resources. On June 23rd, the House of Representatives passed a conference report which included an additional $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and response efforts, including the development of a vaccine and mosquito control efforts. Unfortunately, a minority of Senators have repeatedly filibustered this legislation in an attempt to play politics and curry favor with special interest groups. In addition to our request that your Administration take increased measures to combat the Zika virus using existing available funds, we hope that you will join us in calling on Members of Congress to stop the filibuster of additional funding for Zika prevention and response measures.