As a nation, we are underprepared to address the next biological or pandemic threat to our country. I am focused on changing that. Specifically, I’ve introduced legislation to address our inability to mobilize quickly and effectively to identify, contain, treat and eliminate any kind of biological threat to people in the United States.
We know that terrorist organizations, including ISIS, are actively pursuing chemical and biological weapons, and that we remain vulnerable to naturally occurring epidemics and pandemics which pose a risk to national security and to public health. Right now, despite the steps taken during and after the Ebola epidemic, we remain largely reactionary in our response to pandemics and biological threats. DHS, the FBI, and the CIA, work to protect our nation from biodefense threats, but Congress has a pivotal role in strengthening our defense efforts. As a former U.S. Attorney, former chair of the Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee, and member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working in Congress to lead proactive efforts to protect and defend our country and its citizens from the threat of outbreak, epidemic or an act of biological terror in the United States.
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense released a report in 2015 that found that our national biodefense strategy and efforts need significant improvement. I have been leading efforts in Congress to act on the 33 recommendations presented in the Panel’s final report. To put some of these recommendations into practice, I introduced H.R. 3299, the Strengthening Public Health Emergency Response Act, with Rep. Anna Eschoo (D-CA) to improve U.S. biodefense efforts and incentivize the development of vaccines for dangerous and deadly pathogens as identified by the Department of Homeland Security. This bill was signed into law as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. I look forward to continuing work to prepare for and to protect our country from biological threats.
Additionally, I co-sponsored H.R. 4400 with Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), legislation that added Zika virus to the FDA Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher Program and incentivized the development and distribution of a vaccine for the Zika virus. The Zika virus, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and can be transmitted sexually, can infect pregnant women and result in birth defects, including microcephaly and neurological disorders in newborns. Companion legislation to H.R. 4400, S. 2512, was signed into law in 2016.
To read an op-ed I wrote about why strengthening our national biodefense is so important to our security and to public health, click here.
More on Strengthening Biodefense
The United States appears ill-prepared to deal with a Zika virus outbreak although the nation’s federal public health agencies have learned valuable information during the last few years about the disease, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says in a new report released on Tuesday to coincide with a related House subcommittee hearing.
WASHINGTON— Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 3299, a bill introduced by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to incentivize investment in vaccines and treatments for dangerous and deadly diseases and pathogens identified as threats to our national security by the Department of Homeland Security. Effective vaccines and treatments for these kinds of biological threats will enhance our Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
WASHINGTON— Today, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee examined H.R. 3299, a bill introduced by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to streamline decision-making procedures and to incentivize investment in vaccines and treatments for dangerous and deadly diseases and pathogens. Effective vaccines and treatments for these kinds of biological threats will enhance our Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) signed companion legislation, S. 2512, to a proposal introduced earlier this year by Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Susan Brooks (IN-05), H.R. 4400. This bipartisan bill adds Zika virus to the list of diseases included in the Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher Program at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This legislation will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
FISHERS, Ind.— Today, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) hosted a biodefense tabletop exercise simulating an European smallpox outbreak and exploring the implications of the outbreak on stateside response activities in Indiana. Over 35 attendees including representatives from local health departments, first responders, homeland security officials, healthcare professionals, and others, participated in today’s exercise. The simulation was led by Dr.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to a letter led by Brooks and 70 other members of Congress urging the agency to add Zika virus to the FDA Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV) Program. Although informative, the FDA did not commit to adding Zika to the PRV list in their response, a move that would strongly incentivize private industry to invest in the medical countermeasures needed to protect against and treat the virus.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following Monday’s announcement by the Administration that an additional $1.8 billion in funding would be needed for an emergency fund to combat the Zika virus in the U.S. and abroad, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) released the following statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following Monday’s World Health Organization (WHO) meeting to address the growing threat of Zika virus in the Americas, 70 members of Congress, led by Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff urging the FDA to add Zika virus to the FDA Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV) Program.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Susan Brooks (IN-05) have introduced H.R.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the World Health Organization categorized the Zika virus outbreak as “spreading explosively” in the Americas and announced that an emergency meeting would be convened on Monday to determine if the outbreak should be declared a public health emergency.