McCain Slams Dems for Blocking Zika Funding Bill; Twitter Critics Bite Back

The Twitterati went after Sen. John McCain for his Zika stance, and they weren't going to stop till they drew blood.EXPAND
The Twitterati went after Sen. John McCain for his Zika stance, and they weren't going to stop till they drew blood.

Minutes after Sen. John McCain tweeted that Democrats were putting politics above meaningful action by blocking a $1.1 billion bill that was ostensibly about funding a federal effort to combat the Zika virus, the Twittersphere bit back with a vengeance.

Calling McCain a hypocrite, many social-media users pointed out that he'd failed to mention a few minor details of the bill, like the fact that Republicans had added measures — deemed "poison pills" — to the bill that were unacceptable to Democrats.

In addition to allocating money for dealing with the growing problem of Zika — a virus transmitted primarily through mosquitoes that has been linked to neurological and developmental problems in adults and birth defects like microcephaly in newborns — the GOP version of the bill contained riders barring any of the funds from going to Planned Parenthood or from paying for other contraceptive efforts, even though Zika is most harmful to pregnant women and can be transmitted sexually.

The GOP version also reversed a law that prevented Confederate flags from being flown in federal cemeteries for veterans, cut funding for combating Ebola, and compromised the Clean Water Act by allowing increased spraying of pesticides.

That last tweak, Huffington Post senior Congressional reporter Michael McAuliff pointed out, wouldn't have helped much. "Zika-carrying mosquitoes do not breed in moving rivers and ponds. They prefer stagnant water, such as in old tires, cans, or bottle caps," McAuliff wrote.

Democrats were also upset that the bill was $800 million short of the $1.9 billion the president requested earlier this year and tacked on to a much larger spending bill dealing with veterans' health care.

Not a single Democrat voted for the bill.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Harry Reid probably summed up best what his Democratic colleagues were thinking: "I don't know what planet my friend, the Republican leader, is living on," Reid said. "[This is] the most irresponsible legislation I have ever seen in my 34 years in Congress. That says a lot. I can't think of anything that's close. This Zika threat is real. It's serious."

Reid went on to call the bill "nothing more than a goody bag for the fringes of the Republican Party."

A spokesman for Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is challenging McCain in the upcoming Senate election, had some strong words about McCain's comment as well: "Here's the truth his 'statement' didn't tell you: McCain and others hijacked this bill because they were more interested in attacking women's health care for election-year politics than they were in properly funding the VA or fully responding to the Zika crisis. They failed on all counts, and the only thing he has left is to play the blame game."

Meanwhile, and predictably, McCain and his Republican colleagues turned around the attack and blamed the Democrats for not compromising for the good of public health.

"Senate Democrats have succeeded in manufacturing a crisis in order to score campaign talking points. This shameful action is just the latest example of Democrats choosing to coarsen political divisions rather than pass meaningful solutions to serious challenges facing our country," McCain said in a statement. 

When he tweeted out a link to the statement — well, Twitter lit him up.

There were plenty of witty and scathing responses, but here are a handful of our favorites:


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