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Bilirakis Meets with Governor Scott to Discuss Zika

May 11, 2016
Press Release

Today, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) met with Florida Governor Rick Scott, along with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Congressman Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), to discuss the Zika virus.

“Our meeting with Governor Scott was very productive, and I look forward to working together, along with other FL members, and the federal government, to ensure all FL communities, and communities across the country, are safe," said Congressman Bilirakis. "I have been on the front lines in the fight to address Zika. I discussed this issue with witnesses from FDA, NIH, CDC, and HHS during a hearing earlier this year and co-sponsored H.R. 4400, the Adding Zika Virus to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act, which became law earlier this year. This bill allows the developer of a vaccine or treatment for a qualifying tropical disease to receive a voucher for FDA priority review for a second product of its choice, and will help immensely in the fight against the virus. There is no doubt funding is necessary to address the issue, however, we must determine funds are being used efficiently to keep individuals safe and prevent the spread of Zika. I have heard directly from stakeholders involved in preventing the spread of Zika - they have concerns about how the funds would be allocated. As we in Congress continue working with stakeholders to determine the best plan of attack, I will continue to be as proactive as possible. My top priority is to keep us safe."

Congressmen Bilirakis, Diaz-Balart, and Curbelo met with Gov. Scott to discuss the impact of the Zika virus in Florida.

“As Floridians, we understand the urgent need to address this public health issue," said Congressman Diaz-Balart. "It is significant to note that because of pressure from the House Appropriations Committee, the Administration has transferred and made $600 million immediately available to fight this virus. The Administration has not provided the Committee or Congress with the proper information as to how exactly any newly proposed funds will be spent. We have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer money is used effectively and is not wasted. Regardless, I have been working with my colleagues, both on the Appropriations Committee and in our Florida delegation, to provide necessary funds at the federal level to combat the virus. Speaker Paul Ryan and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers have made it clear they are committed to provide the Administration with what is needed to fight Zika. I thank Governor Scott for taking the time to meet with myself and Congressmen Bilirakis and Curbelo. Zika has the potential to become a public health crisis, and Governor Scott’s leadership on this issue is vital and very much appreciated. Working together at the state and federal levels will result in the best response to fight this disease before it continues to spread.”

From left to right: Congressmen Curbelo, Bilirakis, and Diaz-Balart are pictured with Gov. Scott (center) after meeting regarding the Zika virus.

"I thank Governor Scott for his support in urging Congress to come together and fund eradication efforts of the Zika virus," added Congressman Curbelo. "As representatives from the state of Florida, we understand the real threat that Zika poses to our families and neighbors. We also discussed my bill, the Zika Eradication and Good Government Act, to ensure that when federal funds are disbursed, agencies tasked to fight the disease share best practice methods. It is critical that we continue to collaborate on finding solutions to reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat of Zika.”