The $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness causing encephalitis and birth defects, failed to clear the Senate as gridlock-as-usual resumes after the recess.
Senate Democrats forced the issue, by not allowing cloture, because of two added provisions to the bill — one defunding Planned Parenthood, the other permitting Confederate flags to be flown at military cemeteries.
By this point, winter’s first hard freeze will do more to protect most Americans from Zika than the U.S. Congress. But that won’t help Americans in the southern-most states, like Florida, that have year-round mosquito populations.
CNN reported Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid as saying:
Republicans were more interested in attacking Planned Parenthood and flying the Confederate flag — can’t make this stuff up, that’s really the truth — than protecting women and babies from this awful virus — CNN 9/6/2016
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell played the roll of innocent bystander for the vote failing, accusing Democrats of not caring about the funding that they had called for to protect Americans against Zika.
With this level of ‘dialog,’ it’s unlikely that the Senate will be able to actually advance the bill.
This will once again spark the controversy of bills containing more than one subject, often in the form of pork that ‘greases the wheels’ of democracy.
Some of the nation’s most critical legislation, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would have never passed if it wasn’t for the pork it contained — but amendments added to bills is only beneficial when it brings compromise.
Now coming full circle, some of the most important legislation of the year is now stalled because of amendments attached that are purely partisan in nature.
How this will be politically spun will be of interest in an election year with many vulnerable Republican seats.
If Democrats can successfully attack in the press, the likelihood of a clean bill, one without partisan amendments, becomes much more likely.
Because public opinion, especially voter’s opinions, are at least ‘somewhat’ listened to in election year politics.