Recent Press Releases and News

WASHINGTON, DC – To provide Florida with more funding to combat the Zika threat, Congressman Ander Crenshaw today (8/3) joined the entire Florida U.S. House delegation in requesting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) readjust the current allocation formula for Zika-specific funds. The request was made in the attached letter to CDC Director Tom Frieden.

Crenshaw, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, issued the following statement regarding the status of federal funding to battle Zika:

“Florida rests in the bullseye of an emerging public health threat and deserves every possible piece of funding to combat Zika. That’s why I voted on June 23 to provide $1.1 billion to stop the spread of this disease. The additional step of readjusting the CDC Zika-specific formula is also needed to provide Florida with a greater share of funding to tackle Zika.

“With the public’s health at risk, there is no time to waste on political gamesmanship. Rather than advance the $1.1 billion in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Zika Response Appropriations Act, Senate Democrats have blocked the bill’s movement. Moreoever, I also joined my colleagues in demanding that the White House apply $600 million in unused Ebola funding to the Zika fight to no avail. That course must be corrected. And, while I share in the support for $8 million in Zika-specific CDC funding for Florida, our state needs and deserves more.”

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Dear Director Frieden:

We write to urge you to reconsider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current allocation formula for Zika-specific funds being distributed amongst U.S. states and territories. As you know, today the CDC announced that the State of Florida will receive $720,000 in new funding for detecting and monitoring microcephaly and other adverse birth outcomes as a result of Zika virus infection out of a total of $16 million that is being divided between 40 states and territories. This amounts to a paltry 4.5% of funding made available, despite the fact that almost half of all confirmed non-travel cases of the disease in the continental United States have now been linked to mosquito transmission in Florida.

Yesterday, the State of Florida’s Department of Health (FDOH) announced that the total number of Zika virus cases linked to mosquito transmission had increased to 14. This is almost half of all confirmed non-travel cases in the continental U.S., including 15 cases likely via sexual transmission, and one case via laboratory exposure. The new mosquito-related cases are currently confined to a single neighborhood in Miami-Dade County, but that serves neither as comfort to the residents of Florida, nor as a limitation to the continued transmission of the disease by mosquitoes throughout other neighborhoods across the state.

We appreciate the efforts that your agency has taken to closely coordinate with state officials, including the provision of essential emergency Zika virus antibody test kits and for the more than $8 million dollars in Zika-specific funding the CDC has already distributed to Florida. However, because of the potential for explosive spread of the virus via mosquito transmission through heavily-populated regions of the state, we urge you, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations, to reconsider the current allocation formula for Zika-specific funds. If funds are truly allocated based on the risk of Zika virus transmission and population need, the State of Florida must receive a far greater share of available funds given the concerning developments linking new cases of the virus to local mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County. Augmented CDC funding provided to FDOH and county health and emergency preparedness departments is critical to effectively dealing with this emerging public health crisis.

Signed by all 27 Members of the U.S. House Delegation from Florida

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – Congressman Ander Crenshaw, author of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act), helped celebrate the launch of Florida’s ABLE United program at a ceremony at The Arc Jacksonville Village on Wednesday evening (7/27). ABLE United, pursuant to the federal ABLE Act, allows Florida residents with disabilities to enroll in tax-free savings accounts to use for qualified expenses without jeopardizing existing government benefits.

Together with officials from the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the Down Syndrome Society of Jacksonville (DSAJ), and The Arc Jacksonville Village, Crenshaw recognized the importance of ABLE United. During the ceremony at The Arc, a recently-opened community that promotes independent living for those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the DSAJ recognized Crenshaw for his leadership on ABLE. He thanked DSAJ Executive Director Debbie Revels, NDSS President Sara Weir, The Arc Jacksonville President and CEO Jim Whittaker and others for their work in advancing the ABLE Act and provided the following comments following the event:

“Great achievements result from teamwork with each player keeping the finish in sight. The ABLE team applied that philosophy for eight years, never taking its eyes off the goal-line. We scored our historic victory on December 19, 2014, the date ABLE became law of the land, and we opened the door to a brighter future for millions living with disabilities. Now, we bring that triumph home to Florida as we celebrate ABLE United, the program that authorizes the establishment of our ground-breaking opportunity at the state level.

“ABLE United means folks right here at The Arc Jacksonville Village, a first-class community that promotes inclusion, engagement, and independent living, are able to enroll in tax-free savings accounts. They and those who live with Down Syndrome, autism, and other disabilities now have access to a common-sense financial planning tool - a tax-free savings account - not previously available to them. Like other Americans who use such a tool to save for college, individuals with disabilities can map out their future. I have no doubt that state-by-state, ABLE accounts will be available to everyone who needs them. That’s what I call a solid win, made possible through partnership. ”

BACKGROUND: Officially titled The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, in honor of its long-time champion who passed away unexpectedly on December 8, 2014, the law marks the first major legislative reform to impact people with disabilities since the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Beck, of Burke, VA, had advocated for the reform early on. His young daughter Natalie was born with Down syndrome.

The ABLE Act amends Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for qualified expenses. Benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources would be supplemented, but not supplanted by the legislation. The bill passed the House on December 3, 2014 by a vote of 404-17 and was included Tax Extenders legislation which passed the Senate by a vote of 76 – 16. President Barack Obama signed the measure into law on Friday afternoon, December 19, 2014.

Editor’s Note: Go to www.crenshaw.house.gov for more information about the history of the ABLE Act.

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Recent Speeches and Statements

Congressman Ander Crenshaw commended the heroism of the late WWII Veteran Clyde L. Hillhouse in a floor speech and urged colleagues to pass legislation naming the White Springs, Florida Post Office in his honor.
Congressman Crenshaw addresses his House colleagues on on November 7, 2009 with concerns over how health care reform will impact the nation's military.

Recent Audio and Video