The XX Factor

Mitch McConnell Blamed Democrats for Zika Funding Impasse, Forgetting One Crucial Fact

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after roll call on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

During Mitch McConnell’s speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, the Senate Majority Leader slammed “Clinton Democrats” for failing to pass a bill that would allocate funds to combat the Zika virus. He said:

As we sit here tonight, a terrifying mosquito-borne illness threatens expectant mothers and their babies along the Southern Coast. And just last week, Clinton Democrats in the Senate blocked a bill aimed at eradicating that virus before it spread.

Indeed, Senate Democrats did block an emergency funding bill before Congress broke for the Fourth of July recess—because Republicans vandalized the bill with what the New York Times called “politically charged provisions.” Republicans made changes to the legislation that would actually make it harder to prevent the spread of Zika, including a provision that would hamstring Planned Parenthood. The Times detailed a few of the measures that derailed Senate Democrats’ support for the bill:


Democrats charged that Republicans had booby-trapped the legislation by adding provisions that would restrict the role of Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization, and similar clinics in providing contraceptive services related to fighting the Zika virus, which can be transmitted sexually.

The Democrats also said that Republicans had inserted a provision cutting $540 million in financing from the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care law, and that they had stripped a House provision that would ban the flying of the Confederate battle flag in federal cemeteries.

Political grandstanding and blame-casting are nothing new in politics. But for McConnell to point the finger at Democrats while his own party is playing political games with children’s health is especially low.