This past weekend saw some backlash for Florida Senator Marco Rubio after his statements concerning the Zika virus and abortion. The virus has officially invaded the state and prompted an unprecedented travel advisory in one North Miami neighborhood. And for good reason, since Zika can cause birth defects including microcephaly and even infant death. Rubio had urged Congress to pass funding to combat the virus, but the measure failed because of several attached provisions (would included allowing the Confederate flag to be flown at federal cemeteries). Rubio also argued that pregnant women who become infected with Zika should be barred from obtaining abortions.
Another Florida politician is feeling the heat too. Governor Rick Scott appeared on Meet the Press to criticize the Senate for failing to fund the fight against Zika before summer recess. Scott challenged, “We still need the federal government to show up … This is a national, international issue. It’s not just a Florida issue.” Scott isn’t alone in his criticism, for New York Senator Chuck Schumer has also called upon the Senate to return from recess and vote on a $1.9 billion bill for emergency funding to combat the mosquito-borne virus. And President Obama also summarized the issue: “Congress needs to do its job.”
However, Todd did his research and asked Scott whether he regrets slashing state funding (by 40% in 2011) for mosquito-control programs. Scott said this defunding had no effect, for “what we’ve done is allocate the dollars better. We reduced some funding in one area, but we dramatically increased the funding over the last five, six years I’ve been in office.” Scott continued to place responsibility on the feds, who he says must provide more Zika funding, but Politico points out how Scott also cut a $500,000 appropriation for a state-run entomology research lab.
Later in the interview, Todd pressed Scott on his support for Donald Trump. Todd noted how Scott released his own tax returns, and the host wanted to know what Scott thought of Trump’s continued refusal to do so. Scott answered, “every candidate does things differently.” No matter how hard Todd circled back, Scott provided the same answer. For what it’s worth, Trump recently told reporters that Scott is “doing a fantastic job on the Zika.”