While campaigning in Florida Tuesday, Tim Kaine blamed Republicans for Congress's failure to pass a bill to do more to combat the disease. The Miami-Herald reports:
"We are really in for a significant public-health challenge if we don't do something about it," [Kaine] said. The Virginia senator slammed Congress for failing to fund Zika-fighting efforts, blaming the House for trying to attach a "poison pill" anti-Planned Parenthood amendment to the legislation. Congress, he added, should go into "emergency session and demand that the House pass the bipartisan bill."
The $1.1 billion anti-Zika bill that Kaine helped kill by filibustering it in the Senate did not cut one cent from the hundreds of millions of tax dollars Planned Parenthood receives to pay for contraception each year. There isn't even any language in the anti-Zika bill that prevents Planned Parenthood from receiving supplemental funding. Most of the $1.1 billion would be spent on mosquito control and vaccine research, but a small chunk of public health funding would go to community health centers, public health programs, or hospitals.
Planned Parenthood fails to qualify for direct funding because it's not a community health center, public health program, or hospital. But if Planned Parenthood sees an uptick in Medicaid patients because of Zika, it would actually qualify for supplemental funding under the anti-Zika legislation if a state opts to use supplemental funds to offset Medicaid costs.
So why do Tim Kaine and Democrats continue to block the Zika bill? It would seem that they like the politics of blaming Republicans for failing to fight Zika more than they want to actually pass a bill to combat the disease.