BOSTON, MA – Today, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston), the lead Democrat on the National Security Subcommittee, called on House and Senate leadership to reconvene Congress in order to address the emergency Zika virus funding request submitted by President Obama in February. With the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate scheduled to be out of session until early September, it is a national security and public health concern that federal, state, and local agencies will not have the resources necessary to undertake a comprehensive strategy to combat the global Zika epidemic.

“There is no time for delay in addressing this growing national security and public health crisis. With the tropical storm/hurricane season approaching Florida, with travel-related Zika infections on the rise and risk of active transmission in the U.S. growing, Congress must take action to ensure that resources are available for agencies at the federal, state, and local level to prevent the spread of Zika and improve our public health response to detect and treat Zika infections,” said Congressman Lynch. “We cannot risk waiting five more weeks for Congress to reconvene and finally have a vote on emergency funding. Leadership must act swiftly to ensure that we are not putting our states and municipalities in grave risk of a devastating outbreak of Zika infections.”

In particular, Congressman Lynch’s letter notes that the Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper classified Zika “as an emerging human and global security threat that is projected to cause as many as 4 million cases in 2016 in the Western Hemisphere alone.” In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an unprecedented travel warning on August 1, advising pregnant women not to travel to a neighborhood north of Miami, where Zika has been actively transmitted.

As of last week, the CDC reported at least 1,658 Zika cases in the continental United States and Hawaii, including 52 reported cases in Massachusetts. For these reasons, Congressman Lynch called on leadership to bring Congress back into session to promptly consider the emergency funding request.

Congressman Lynch is a cosponsor of H.R. 5044, legislation that provides $1.9 billion in emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus. H.R. 5044 reflects the funding levels requested by President Obama in February 2016.

The text of Congressman Lynch’s letter is available here