Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is introducing a bill that would extend funding to fight the Zika virus through the year 2023 and expand a local mosquito-control grant program to address other infectious mosquito-bourne diseases.
Soto, an Orlando Democrat, is expecting to file his bill today, dubbing it the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act” or SMASH Act.
“During the recent outbreak of Zika, instead of strengthening this program, Congress decided to provide money solely for mosquito control to combat Zika. When that money runs out, that’s it,” Soto stated in a news release issued by his office. “Instead of waiting for another crisis necessitating another expensive one-off Band-Aid bill, we should make the urgent investments needed to maintain the tools we already have.”
In addition to extended funding and an expanded focus to include other potential emerging mosquito-borne diseases, the bill requires the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give preference to grant applicants that either have a public health emergency due to mosquito-borne diseases or to control programs that are consistent with existing state plans.
It also allows for the requirement of matching funds to be waived if the area covered by a grant application has an extreme need.