The Republican-controlled U.S. House on Tuesday passed legislation—newly rebranded with the word “Zika” in it—that Democrats say is in fact not at all about the addressing the threat of the virus but making it easier for pesticides to contaminate the nation’s waterways.
Previously called the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,” the “Zika Vector Control Act” passed the House 258-156.
According to House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md), H.R. 897 “is nothing but a Trojan horse, with practically nothing to do with Zika.”
It was sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who, as Cleveland.com reported last week, “For years […] has tried to get Congress to change permitting requirements for pesticides sprayed near water.”
The Obama administration issued a statement earlier this week saying (pdf) that it “strongly opposes” the legislation, as it “would weaken environmental protections under the Clean Water Act.” Indeed, the Act’s summary states that it
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Gibbs, The Hill notes, “said it would help to eliminate a ‘duplicative and unnecessary permitting regulation’ that has made it more difficult for some local governments to spread for mosquitoes.”
Journalist and documentary filmmaker Leighton Woodhouse, for his part, referred to the bill as “Straight up #disastercapitalism.”
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.)., meanwhile, said it “is a sham.”
“It is nothing but trying to weaken the environmental regulations. It exempts, a broad exemption, of toxic pesticides from the Clean Water Act,” she said to PBS Newshour Monday, adding that the bill stands to “pollute our rivers and contaminate our water.”
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