CBS Teams with White House, Pelosi to Attack GOP for Not Creating $1.9 Billion for Fighting Zika

Thursday’s CBS Evening News featured a segment in which chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook tag-teamed with the White House and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to attack Republicans for not going along with demands to create $1.9 billion (that could be passed through Congress) to allow the CDC and NIH to fight the Zika virus. 

While no one has argued that Zika isn’t a problem facing the Western Hemisphere and must be stopped, there was no point in the two-minute-and-seven-second piece that sought to explain how and where the $1.9 billion would come from. 

“Well, the U.S. should be preparing for war against the Zika virus, but Congress has not put up the nearly $2 billion that the CDC says it must have. Mosquitoes are soon likely to spread the virus here,” anchor Scott Pelley lamented before tossing to LaPook.

LaPook began by immediately attacking Republicans by fretting that even though the Obama administration redirected “nearly $600 million from fighting Ebola to fighting Zika,” government scientists like “Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH said it's a stopgap measure at best.”

He was then shown at a press conference held by House Speaker Paul Ryan and he demanded to know if he “believe[d] the the White House when it says it needs the full $1.9 billion to fight Zika over and beyond what has already been allocated to fight Ebola.”

The Republican Speaker noted that “[t]he money is in the pipeline” and that congressional appropriators “will address this issue.”

Turning next to one such appropriator in Republican Congressman Tom Cole (Okla.), LaPook engaged in a brief back-and-forth with Cole not about where the money will come from but whether he’s stonewalling because he doesn’t believe the CDC or NIH that Zika’s a serious matter. 

To further stack the deck, LaPook gave way to a friendly face in Pelosi to paint a picture of doom and gloom about the country’s Zika fight if funding isn’t manufactured:

LAPOOK: Democrats and the White House favor an emergency request, which doesn't need to be funded at the expense of other programs. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

PELOSI: The budget process takes a long time. It will be practically nine months before we could ever get any other money, and it's no guarantee that you have it at the end of the year. 

LAPOOK [TO PELOSI]: At the end of the day, that money will be there or it won't be there? 

PELOSI: I don't know. I honestly don't know and that is what is — that has us very concerned. 

The transcript of the segment from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on April 14 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
April 14, 2016
6:37 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Funding the Fight]

SCOTT PELLEY: Well, the U.S. should be preparing for war against the Zika virus, but Congress has not put up the nearly $2 billion that the CDC says it must have. Mosquitoes are soon likely to spread the virus here, so our Dr. Jon LaPook went to Washington and extracted a promise. 

DR. JON LAPOOK: When the administration moved nearly $600 million from fighting Ebola to fighting Zika, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH said it's a stopgap measure at best. 

ANTHONY FAUCI: When the President asked for $1.9 billion, we needed $1.9 billion. 

LAPOOK: House Speaker Paul Ryan. [TO RYAN] Mr. Speaker, do you believe the White House when it says it needs the full $1.9 billion to fight Zika over and beyond what has already been allocated to fight Ebola? 

HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: It’s just what I said. The money is in the pipeline. Our appropriators will address this issue. If a need arises, our appropriators will address it in appropriation.

LAPOOK: [TO RYAN] But the money will be there eventually? [VOICE-OVER] Congressman Tom Cole chairs an appropriations subcommittee consideration the administration's request. [TO COLE] Who decides whether it's truly needed? I mean, do you believe the NIH? Do you believe the CDC?

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN TOM COLE (Okla.): Oh, I absolutely do believe the NIH and the CDC, but we have to use the resources that we have wisely. 

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI: We need the money now. 

LAPOOK: Democrats and the White House favor an emergency request, which doesn't need to be funded at the expense of other programs. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

PELOSI: The budget process takes a long time. It will be practically nine months before we could ever get any other money, and it's no guarantee that you have it at the end of the year. 

LAPOOK [TO PELOSI]: At the end of the day, that money will be there or it won't be there? 

PELOSI: I don't know. I honestly don't know and that is what is — that has us very concerned. 

LAPOOK: But Congressman Cole says he understands the importance of funding. 

COLE; You have our guarantee that, hey, we will work with you on this. 

LAPOOK [TO COLE]: Do they also have your guarantee that the money will eventually be there if it's needed — if it’s truly needed? 

COLE: Yeah, they do. 

LAPOOK: Scott, just yesterday, the CDC confirmed Zika causes birth defects. That makes it all the more urgent to mount a full-scale assault against the virus and mosquitoes that carry it. 

PELLEY: Jon LaPook, the best doctor on Capitol Hill. Jon, thanks very much.

NB Daily Congress Budget Environment Health Care Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CDC CBS CBS Evening News Video Government & Press Paul Ryan Dr. Jon LaPook Jon LaPook National Institutes of Health Scott Pelley Nancy Pelosi
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