Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly brought a container of mosquitoes onto the House floor Wednesday to criticize Congress for failing to pass legislation to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the Sunshine State.
“I rise with about 100 mosquitoes straight from Florida…mosquitoes capable of carrying the Zika virus,” Jolly said, holding the container. “This is the reason for the urgency, this is the reason for the fear.”
The bill, providing $1.1 billion to help combat the virus, is stalled in the Senate, where Democrats are blocking it in a dispute over restrictions the bill would place on funding for Planned Parenthood clinics.
Jolly, who represents the 13th District in Pinellas County, said the mosquitoes, still in their larval stage, came from researchers at the University of South Florida and aren’t active carriers.
There have been 56 non-travel related Zika cases in Florida, many of them in Miami-Dade’s “Zika zones” in Wynwood and Miami Beach, according to the Florida Department of Health. Additionally, some 577 travel-related Zika cases have been reported throughout Florida.
Jolly said he brought the mosquitoes to the House to convey the fear Floridians are feeling.
“It is our job to respond to the fear and the anxiety and the anger of a population concerned about a pending public health crisis, concerned about mosquitoes,” he said. “You see, I brought these mosquitoes here today to convey that fear and that anxiety of millions of Americans and Floridians.
“Can you imagine, colleagues, the fear and anxiety in this chamber if these 100 mosquitoes were outside this jar, not inside this jar? Members of Congress would run down the hall to the physician’s office to be tested, they would spray themselves before coming down here. This is the fear of Floridians right here.”
Jolly is locked in a tough race in a redrawn congressional district against former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who has since changed his affiliation to Democrat.
The congressman said Floridians are angry. He said it is too bad that candidates are going to spend money on campaign commercials about Zika, instead of responding together to solve the public health crisis.
“The time for politics of Zika is over. The politics of Zika are garbage right now,” he said.