U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Named to Senate- House Conference Committee on Zika Virus Response and MilCon-VA Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been named to the Senate and House Conference Committee to move several appropriations bills forward in Congress. Senator Baldwin will be one of 19 senators who will work with the House on a number of pressing issues, including funding to combat the Zika Virus threat. Senator Baldwin will also have an opportunity to advance a number of VA reforms she fought to include in the Senate’s FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill in May.

I look forward to working on the conference committee to advance a number of investments and reforms that will help us meet the many important challenges America faces right now.” said Senator Baldwin. “Congress has a responsibility to act on the public health crisis posed by Zika and we need to produce an investment for this fight that provides the necessary resources to address it. We also need to do more to improve services at the VA and I will continue my fight to move investments and reforms forward that ensure our veterans get the care they need and deserve.”

Last month, Senator Baldwin voted for emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. The bipartisan funding measure passed the Senate and authorized $1.1 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus. The House has shortchanged the response to both the Zika and Ebola virus. The House-passed Zika funding measure not only takes money from the ongoing Ebola response, but only includes $622 million, which is just over half of what the Senate has passed with a bipartisan vote to help fight the Zika virus.

More than 1,900 Americans in 49 states and territories have been infected with the Zika virus, including over 350 pregnant women. On April 13, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the Zika virus does, in fact, cause microcephaly and other birth defects. 

Senator Baldwin will have an opportunity to push forward a number of VA reforms she fought to include in the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill, including; empowering whistleblowers and holding VA managers accountable; improving VA hiring and reporting practices; increasing transparency at the VA Office of Inspector General; stronger oversight of the VA’s prescribing practices; more affordable and accessible overdose rescue kits; reducing the VA claims and appeals backlog; ensuring better treatment for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness; and a review and reassessment of the VA Domiciliary program.

Other Senators named to the conference committee include Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).