Column

An Update on Our Efforts to Fight Zika

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Washington, May 24, 2016 | comments

In addition to providing the needed funding to fight Zika, the House is taking action today to get rid of unnecessary and duplicative government regulations that stand in the way of killing disease-ridden mosquitoes. The President and Administration should work with us on protecting mothers and children from Zika. Below is an update on the House's progress from the office of Speaker Paul Ryan: 

mosquitoes

 

In the midst of a Zika threat, the federal government should not be making it harder for people to kill the mosquitoes that could carry it. That’s one thing we should all agree on—but that’s not how the Obama administration sees it.

Yesterday, the Obama administration came out in opposition to the House’s latest effort to fight Zika at its source. This flies in the face of a major recommendation from the Center for Disease Control for fighting Zika: “vector surveillance and control”—a huge part of which is spraying mosquitoes.

This is serious stuff—we’re not talking about annoyances at your summer barbecue. Mosquitoes are the carriers of life-threatening exotic diseases, among which are the Zika and West Nile viruses. Beyond the personal danger, the treatment of Americans with mosquito-borne illnesses also costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

But leave it to Obama's EPA to make a bad situation worse. Onerous new EPA regulations have completely hamstrung mosquito control activities. Despite the fact it’s already regulated, these duplicative permitting requirements have made it extremely expensive and nearly impossible for districts to control mosquito populations. Pile on litigation from extreme environmental groups, and simple paperwork violations for example that can cost $35,000 per day, according to the American Mosquito Control Association.

It’s simply too much for small businesses.  Leonard Felix of Olath Spray Service Inc. in Colorado testified before the House Small Business Committee, saying he was forced to shut down his business because of the costs and fear of frivolous lawsuits. Dean McClain of AG Flyers in Wyoming shuttered his mosquito control services because of the EPA’s requirement.

We cannot be passive in our fight against Zika—and we take the the CDC's recommendation seriously. Following earlier action to provide needed funding, today the House will consider H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act, which clarifies congressional intent for use of pesticides to prevent diseases and eliminates overlapping permitting regulations—tearing down these barriers to killing mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, it looks like the CDC’s recommendation is less persuasive to the White House than these litigious, deep-pocketed environmental groups. Yesterday, the Obama administration said it “strongly opposes” the House bill, calling it “unnecessary.”

The House has already passed multiple bills that provide resources to the federal government for Zika treatment and vaccine-development efforts. But, if we’re not getting at—and killing—these root carriers, then it’s going to be less effective at stopping Zika than throwing a Band-Aid on that bug bite in a swamp. 

What could be more necessary than killing potentially disease-ridden mosquitoes in the midst of a Zika threat? It seems like the administration is putting the pockets of environmental interest groups ahead of the public. We hope the administration reverses this disturbing position and supports H.R. 897. The health of the public is at stake.
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