U.S. Sen Charles Schumer pushed Congress Sunday to fast track plans to provide $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus.
About 800 Americans have contracted the disease, including 60 people in New York state, and there is no excuse to back the president’s funding request, he said. The money go toward several initiatives such as vaccine research, mosquito reduction initiatives and family planning.
“We know what to do to beat Zika. The problem is the people in Congress are twiddling their thumbs,” he said.
The virus poses a serious risk to pregnant women and has been linked to several birth defects, including Microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is abnormally small and can have brain damage. The funds will pay for research into a Zika testing program to help women determine if they contracted the disease early. Schumer added that the funds will include strong support for Puerto Rico, which has over 500 Zika cases.
Schumer also provided an update to Avonte’s Law, which would provide billions of dollars to law enforcement departments throughout the country for voluntary tracking systems for autistic children.
“We do this for senior citizens who have Alzheimer’s and it’s been successful,” he said.
The bill, which is named after Avonte Oquendo, a Queens autistic boy who drowned after he ran away from his school in 2013, passed the judiciary committee. The senator said the bill could be put before a vote in a few months.