Jupiter Democratic Representative and U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy has introduced the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act that would provide resources to state and local governments to help fight the spread of the Zika virus.
The bill reauthorizes a lapsed 2003 mosquito-control program and provides $130 million each year for mosquito surveillance efforts. It also reauthorizes epidemiology laboratory capacity grants to support the work of state and local health departments to treat infectious diseases like Zika. The bill is a House companion to legislation introduced in the Senate last week by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and Maine Independent Angus King.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked the Zika virus to serious health conditions, including birth defects in infants such as microcephaly as well as neurological disorders.
“With more than 1,900 cases of Zika already in the United States and its territories and a vaccine at least several months away, effective mosquito control programs are what will make the difference between a few cases and an epidemic. To do that, Congress must provide the resources necessary for states and local partners to implement and maintain world-leading mosquito control programs and control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases,” Murphy said. “Time is of the essence to get out in front of this growing threat to public health, and I hope both chambers will quickly act on this much-needed legislation, as well as provide the full funding necessary to protect Americans from Zika.”
Murphy has been outspoken in calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on H.R. 5044, legislation that would provide the full $1.9 billion emergency Zika funding requested by President Obama earlier this year. He’s also co-sponsored a legislative package with Bonita Springs Republican Congressman Curt Clawson that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases.
Congressional negotiators are currently reconciling a measure passed in the Senate that would provide $1.1 billion in emergency funds, and the House approved legislation that would reallocate $622 million from existing programs.