05.16.19

Senate HELP Committee Leaders Applaud Passage of Legislation to Combat Bioterrorism and Pandemics

Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the Senate passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, which supports and strengthens America’s ability to prepare for and respond to the full range of public health threats we face, both naturally occurring or as a result of a deliberate attack on our country. 

“When it comes to combatting pandemics or biological attacks, being prepared is everything,” said Senator Burr. “Today, our nation has an incredible response framework that brings the private and public sectors together to address a range of public health threats, both natural and man-made. As these threats grow increasingly complex, however, it is critical that our capability to respond keeps pace. I am pleased my Senate colleagues joined me in supporting this legislation that ensures America’s biodefenses are ready for the public health challenges of the 21st century.”

“The number of public health emergencies in recent years – from outbreaks of Zika and Ebola virus and ongoing threats from multidrug-resistant pathogens, to natural disasters such as wildfires and flooding – reminds us on a nearly daily basis of the importance of a strong and well-coordinated public health system,” said Senator Casey. “National leadership and funding that strengthens state and local response is essential to all our safety. The improvements made in this bill are based off of lessons learned and are the crucial next step that must be taken to advance the security of Pennsylvanians and Americans.”

“This bill strengthens our preparedness and response capabilities to better protect Americans from threats such as outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles or the flu; natural disasters, like hurricanes in the Southeast in 2017 or wildfires in East Tennessee in 2016; or deliberate attacks with dangerous agents, like anthrax or nuclear weapons,” said Senator Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Helping our country stay prepared for a range of public health threats is a top priority.”

“Robust public health preparedness and response programs are the difference between a threat and a disaster, between lives at risk and lives lost,” said Senator Murray, the HELP Committee’s Ranking Member. “The steps we take today will make all the difference in keeping our communities safe against the health threats of tomorrow from disease outbreaks to natural disasters, antimicrobial resistance, and more. I’m glad we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to pass a strong reauthorization bill that gives these issues the attention they deserve, and I hope to continue working with my colleagues to provide the resources needed to keep families across the country safe.”

Background:

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) was enacted in 2006 and reauthorized in 2013 to establish and maintain a framework to prepare for and respond to public health threats that may result in a public health emergency.  Senators Richard Burr and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) spearheaded the original legislation.

This month, Senators Burr, Casey, Alexander, and Murray introduced the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI), which reauthorizes PAHPA and builds upon its existing policies and programs to update these programs to address 21st century threats.

PAHPAI passed the Senate today by voice vote. You can find a section-by-section here