House

Florida lawmaker brings jar of mosquitoes to House floor

A Republican lawmaker from Florida brought a jar of mosquitoes to the House floor on Wednesday to pressure his colleagues to pass a compromise bill to fund the fight against the Zika virus threatening his state.

Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) held up the jar of mosquitoes — which he noted are not actively carrying the virus — as he delivered a morning speech on the floor.

“I rise today to talk about Zika. And I rise with about 100 mosquitoes straight from Florida,” Jolly began. “These mosquitoes can travel only about 150 feet, but with the assistance of a plane ticket and researchers at the University of South Florida, they have made their way from Florida to the well of this House.

{mosads}“Now, they are not active carriers, but they could be,” Jolly warned.

Jolly wondered aloud how fellow lawmakers would react if the mosquitoes in the jar were released into the House chamber. He argued that his colleagues would know how his constituents feel.

“Can you imagine, colleagues, the fear and anxiety in this chamber if these hundred mosquitoes were outside this jar and not inside this jar?” Jolly asked.

“Members of Congress would run down the hall to the physician’s office to be tested. They would spray themselves before coming down here,” he said. “This is the fear of Floridians.”

Jolly told The Hill after House votes Wednesday that he has not one, but two jars of mosquitos; he’s feeding them nectar provided by university researchers.
 
He said he might bring one or both of the jars back to the floor for another speech on Thursday, since no one admonished him for his earlier gambit.
 
“What I really wanted to do was let them loose. You want to see action, let them loose on the House floor,” he joked.

Congress adjourned for its seven-week summer recess in mid-July without passing an emergency funding bill to combat the spread of the Zika virus. Since that time, additional cases of the virus have emerged in the U.S., particularly in southern Florida.

The Senate again failed to secure the necessary 60 votes to advance a $1.1 billion funding bill to mitigate Zika on its first day back from recess on Tuesday. The House passed the bill in June, but Senate Democrats have blocked its passage three times — primarily because of language targeting Planned Parenthood. 

Lawmakers are hoping to reach a deal on Zika funding this month before leaving again for an extended pre-election recess, potentially as part of a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.  

The Zika virus is most commonly spread by mosquitoes and can cause birth defects in the newborns of women who are pregnant when they contract the virus. 

“We are wasting time. That is why I’m joined by these mosquitoes today,” Jolly said from the floor.

Updated at 5 p.m.

Tags
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video