Health and Science

President and Congress failing to fight Zika in Florida: Gov Rick Scott

Gov. Scott: Confident we'll figure out how to control Zika
Gov. Scott: Confident we'll figure out how to control Zika

Washington is failing to adequately fund the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus even as the first cases of local transmission crop up in the Miami area, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday

"The president and and Congress have not worked together to help us," the Republican executive told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"Think about this, this is not just a Florida issue. This a national, international issue. We're just the tip of the spear. They should be our partner, and they haven't been our partner so far," he said.

The White House and lawmakers have clashed this year over funding levels for Zika.

President Barack Obama has requested $1.9 billion for mosquito control, vaccine research and other measures.

A Republican-drafted plan to allocate $1.1 billion failed in the Senate this summer after Democrats objected to funding cuts to other health initiatives contained within the proposal, as well as a stipulation that would have blocked the money from being routed through private entities including Planned Parenthood.

The threat became more urgent after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week warned pregnant women to avoid the Wynwood neighborhood north of Miami, where the Florida Department of Health has identified 14 cases in which Zika was transmitted locally by a mosquito bite. A 15th case was reported Tuesday outside the one-square mile area where the virus has been transmitted. A health official told The Miami Herald the department is investigating whether active transmission is spreading beyond that area.

The warning was the first of its kind in the United States. Until recently, cases of Zika virus, which the CDC has concluded causes microcephaly and other birth defects, have been limited among U.S. residents to people who traveled outside the Lower 48 states.

In the absence of federal funding, Scott vowed to draw on state reserves and spend what was necessary to pay for ongoing efforts, including free Zika testing and spraying of insecticide.

Scott confirmed that Obama offered to send $5.6 million to Florida while Congress is on recess, but said the president must work with lawmakers to reach a deal to offer more substantial funding.

Zika funding fight
Zika funding fight

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., told "Squawk Box" that Republicans on Monday would formally request Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call Congress back to take up the issue.

"We've asked Mitch McConnell to go ahead and bring this up and fast track it and get it done now. They should use the nuclear option of 51 votes and pass this without playing politics with it," he said.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told "Squawk Box" she would support reconvening Congress, but said the original Republican plan would cut funding for contraception that could prevent women who contract Zika through sexual intercourse from becoming pregnant.

Dingell and her Democratic House colleagues voted against the Zika bill over funding concerns. They also opposed Republican efforts to relax EPA regulations on the use of certain pesticides that Democrats say could poison water sources.

"Compromise is not a dirty word, and I'd like to see us come together because we have a crisis," Dingell said.