06.08.16

Baldwin and Democrats Urge Defense, State Departments to Protect Servicemembers, Civil Servants and their Families in Zika-Affected Areas

Newly-released Pentagon report found that 11 servicemembers, 4 dependents, and 2 retirees have been infected with the Zika virus since January

Democrats call for increased collaboration to protect troops, foreign and civil service officers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and 21 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Department of State and Department of Defense encouraging the agencies to collaborate on policies that prioritize the health and welfare of servicemembers, civil servants and their families serving in the United States and living abroad in Zika-affected countries. In the letter, the Senators cite a recent Pentagon report which found that as of May 20th, 11 servicemembers, 4 dependents, and 2 retirees have been infected with the Zika virus since January. The Senators requested additional information on steps each department is taking to protect servicemembers and civilians.

“We commend the steps that your Departments have taken already to gain a better understanding of the threat the Zika virus poses to civilians and servicemembers and their families while serving abroad, as well as to educate our citizens living abroad,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “As we continue to push for quick action to send a strong emergency funding proposal to the President’s desk to tackle this virus, we would appreciate greater detail on how your Departments are working to protect servicemembers and civilians living in Zika-affected areas, specifically women and children, and how additional funding from Congress will assist your Departments, both indirectly and directly, in these efforts.”

The list of Senators signing the letter include: Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), John Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Senate has already acted and voted overwhelmingly to advance a bipartisan agreement to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Senate Democrats continue to urge Republicans in both chambers to join in acting quickly on a serious emergency funding package to respond to the Zika virus, and have spoken out against the partisan and irresponsible House Zika proposal, which would fund only a third of the President’s emergency supplemental request released in February.

Full text of the letter is available here.