Rep. Patrick Murphy slammed Sen. Marco Rubio Tuesday for supporting GOP-backed Zika bills and not convincing his party’s leadership to return to D.C. to pass a funding bill to respond to the outbreak.
The Florida Democrat, who is running for Rubio’s Senate seat, told reporters Rubio doesn’t hold the clout he claims to have with top congressional leaders, as he hasn’t been able to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan to call lawmakers back from recess to pass a funding measure.
“Marco Rubio has proved himself totally ineffective in the fight against Zika,” Murphy said, adding that the incumbent “is putting his political party and his own personal ambitions ahead of Florida.”
“Everyone knows he is running for president in 2020,” Murphy said. “He is making himself a lame duck on Day One.”
Murphy’s comments echo those of Democrats who have called for lawmakers to return to D.C. and pass President Obama’s $1.9. billion request to respond to the Zika virus. Rubio, who has voted in favor of every Zika funding measure that has come up in the Senate, has also suggested lawmakers should return to session to pass a bipartisan bill.
Senate Democrats blocked a $1.1 billion funding package, which included offsets twice before Congress recessed last month, over what they called partisan riders, such as effectively blocking funding from going to Planned Parenthood affiliates. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion emergency funding package as an amendment to an unrelated spending bill earlier in the summer, while the House originally approved more than $600 million to respond to the virus.
Murphy pushed back on the idea that both parties have played political games in negotiations around the Zika virus, arguing that Republicans are adding too many restrictions to the funding measure.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a reproductive rights group, added that Republicans are ignoring scientific advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Agency for International Development in their legislation. The GOP-backed bill goes against what science experts have said about women having access to reproductive health care being one of the best ways to prevent and treat Zika, she said.
“Those solutions need to be grounded in science,” Hogue said.