Editorial: Congress’ Pending Agenda

Too many issues in need of urgent action remain unsolved In the legislative schedule

Editorial: Congress’ Pending Agenda
Foto: EFE

Congress members have returned from their vacation to resume work on pending topics in need of action. We hope that, in the next few days, legislators will overcome their differences, which have caused a number of bills directly affecting the health and well-being of the people to stall.

One of these urgent problems requiring federal intervention is water contamination in Flint, Michigan. An estimated 100,000 people have been left without drinking water for a long time, and it has been 6 months since a state of emergency was declared in the city.

As of today, an aid package approved by a Senate committee sits paralyzed because a number of conservative senators consider that the problem is strictly a state matter and that it does not require the federal government to assign funding.

Another pending issue is the request for funds to combat the Zika virus, which is bound to peak during the summer in several states throughout the country. President Obama asked for $1.9 billion to help city and state governments to expand detection and diagnostics technology, train health personnel and push the development of a vaccine, which is already at an advanced state. The White House has even offered to reassign more than $500 million from the Ebola efforts to the Zika campaign. Republican legislators have also stalled this disbursement until they have more details on the nature of the expenses.

The Zika virus is especially dangerous in Puerto Rico, where there are no funds to combat it. The island’s financial crisis continues to worsen, and the local government has chosen to continue offering services to the population instead of paying back their debt. Washington Republicans have not reached consensus regarding the measures that will be taken to aid the island. They have so far evaluated three proposals, and there is no agreement in sight between those who want to help Puerto Rico and those who believe that the island’s priority must be to pay off their debt at all cost.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the legislature’s most important task right now is to come up with a Republican agenda for the election year. It would be best for them to govern instead of campaigning, but internal divisions seem to prevail in the GOP side. A good example of this is Ryan’s failure to draft a budget by April 15.

Americans need Congress to do their job and pass laws. The needs are there. All that is lacking at this point is the will of the legislative majority to act.