GOP blasts Obama on using pesticides for Zika

GOP blasts Obama on using pesticides for Zika
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A group of Republican lawmakers are accusing the Obama administration of espousing a double standard on the need to spray more pesticides to mitigate the Zika virus.

The House and Senate Republicans, led by Rep. Bob GibbsRobert (Bob) Brian GibbsHouse conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Judge rules against Trump attempt to delay Obama water rule House Dems add five candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program MORE (Ohio), say that the administration should support a GOP measure to roll back Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on spraying pesticides, which they believe would cut down on Zika by killing the mosquitoes that carry it.

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In a Monday letter to President Obama, Gibbs and his colleagues cited last week’s advisory from the heads of the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encouraged Puerto Ricans to spray more pesticides to slow the spread of the virus.

But while the administration is encouraging pesticide use in Puerto Rico, Republicans say that opposition to the pesticide measure shows that officials don’t take the threat seriously on the mainland.

“With growing number of reports of pregnant women contracting Zika and concerns about the island’s mosquito abatement programs, both administration officials encouraged aerial spraying, with administrator [Gina] McCarthy emphasizing that spraying was the ‘most important tool’ at our disposal,” the lawmakers said.

“We urge you to consider administrator McCarthy’s comments that spraying can be accomplished ‘safely and effectively’ and seriously consider these warnings from your directors at the CDC and the EPA,” they wrote.

Gibbs’s pesticide legislation would remove the requirement that sprayers obtain the EPA’s permission to spray pesticides near waterways if the state has already given approval. Democrats have slammed the legislation as a major blow to the Clean Water Act.

It is now part of the Republicans’ $1.1 billion Zika package, which passed the House in June but failed in the Senate, due in part to the EPA provisions.

As Republicans work to change the bill and bring Democrats on board, Gibbs and his colleagues asked Obama to support the pesticide piece.