-- In sharp contrast to new alarms over dwindling resources to fight Zika, Donald Trump broke his silence yesterday on the federal response to the mosquito-borne virus, but declined to say whether Congress should approve more money.
Trump also said Zika appears to be “under control” in Florida where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week took the unprecedented step of advising pregnant women not to travel to certain areas of Miami, amid reports of 15 cases of the virus transmitted in the state.
Yesterday, Congress left for a nearly two-month recess without coming to an agreement on the president's $1.9 billion request for emergency funding to fight Zika, as ABC reported. Asked if Congress should meet in an emergency session to pass the emergency funding requested by the Obama Administration, Trump deferred to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
"I would say that it's up to Rick Scott,” Trump told CBS affiliate WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida. “It depends on what he's looking to do. Because he really seems to have it under control in Florida."
Trump’s comments came amid the Obama Administration’s urgent warning to Congress yesterday that the country’s response to Zika would be impaired without more funding. The Republican nominee’s comments also suggested he is unfamiliar with the views of the Florida governor, who has been an outspoken critic of federal inaction on Zika.
Scott has rebuked Congress repeatedly since June when lawmakers failed to pass a funding bill that fell about $800 million short of the administration’s request. He accused Congress and President Obama of placing politics above the health and safety of families, and responded by allocating more than $26 million in state funds to Zika measures.
The governor vowed yesterday that Florida would continue applying state resources as necessary, but repeated his disappointment to the federal response.
“Congress went on recess. The president and Congress have not worked together to help us,” Scott told CNBC. “They should be helping us with paying for things like mosquito spray, testing, things like that.”
Trump’s comments came after members of both parties called on him to take a position on the problem.
“If you look at what Donald Trump has said on Zika, it's kind of crickets, it's like nothing," Kaine said Tuesday at a rally in Daytona Beach, Florida. Kaine also called for Congress to convene an emergency session on funding.
Trump said he was monitoring the developing situation in Florida, which has begun spraying insecticide to eradicate mosquitoes, and praised the governor’s response to date.
“You have a great governor who's doing a fantastic job--Rick Scott--on the Zika,” he told WPEC. “He's letting everyone know exactly what the problem is and how to get rid of it. He's going to have it under control. He probably already does.”