PASSES HOUSE: Brooks, Eshoo Legislation to Combat Biodefense Threats
To watch Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor, click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 269, the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPA), a bill introduced by Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA18) along with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ06) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR02).
PAHPA is critically important legislation to ensure our nation is better prepared for and able to keep Americans safer in response to natural disasters or biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear threats to our public health and national security.
“Biological threats, such as Ebola, smallpox or the anthrax attacks after September 11, 2001, can devastate communities, whether occurring naturally or manufactured into weapons of mass destruction by nation states or terrorist organizations,” said Brooks. “PAHPA improves our federal response to public health and national security threats by working to close the gaps in our emergency preparedness and response plans. It ensures we have more medical professionals trained to keep people safe in the event of a natural disaster or if an attack were to take place. It also ensures equipment, such as hazmat suits, masks and vaccines, is available in our Strategic National Stockpiles located across the country. PAHPA was first signed into law in 2006, and I am proud this reauthorization bill reflects extensive feedback from medical and public health preparedness and response stakeholders so we can better prepare for and combat the known threats of today and the unknown threats of tomorrow.”
For a section-by-section summary of the legislation, click here.
To read the text of the legislation, click here.
Brooks and Eshoo are co-founders of the Congressional Biodefense Caucus. The Caucus serves as a platform to educate Members of Congress and their staff on the very real threats our nation faces from a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack or pandemic outbreak. It also aims to identify the existing gaps in our preparedness and response capabilities.
Transcript of House Floor remarks as prepared:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 or PAHPA. I’m proud to have introduced this important bill with my good friend, Representative Anna Eshoo who was one of the original authors of the 2006 PAHPA bill and lead author of the last reauthorization in 2013. I also want to thank new Energy and Commerce Committee Chair, Frank Pallone, and Ranking Member, Greg Walden, for working to get this back on the House Floor so quickly as we begin the 116th Congress.
PAHPA is a bipartisan public health and national security effort ensuring our nation is better prepared to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes, emerging infectious diseases like Zika or Ebola, and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks whether from terrorist groups or from nation states.
The reality is, these threats we face are not just hypothetical. The ongoing Ebola outbreak is now the second largest outbreak in history. Since August of 2018, 374 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have died from Ebola, bringing the total to 623 cases. With 9 new confirmed cases in just the last week.
Thanks to PAHPA and the 21st Century Cures Act, we are more prepared for biological threats and attacks. Last year, the FDA approved the first drug to treat smallpox and an autoinjector which provides a one-time dose of an antidote to block effects of a nerve agent.
But, PAHPA is much more than just a biodefense bill. It also helps ensure a coordinated health care response to hurricanes by prioritizing our nation’s most vulnerable populations – our children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.
PAHPA provides liability protections for doctors who volunteer after a medical disaster. It ensures more health care professionals like nurses and doctors can be hired and trained when facing a public health crisis. It also ensures we have a robust supply of vaccines, equipment like gloves, hazmat suits and masks in our Strategic National Stockpiles, so these professionals have the equipment they need.
This bill ensures our preparedness and response capabilities will include a robust pipeline of medical countermeasures by increasing funding for the BioShield Special Reserve Fund and BARDA whose work over the last decade has resulted in FDA approvals for more than 42 different medical countermeasures.
While the investments BARDA is making into innovative research and treatments are critical, we must continue to address threats that have been around for years.
The 1918 influenza outbreak killed 675 thousand Americans and millions worldwide. Some experts predict that we are due for another global pandemic influenza. The bill we are considering today authorizes $250 million to address threats like pandemic influenza.
This bill is the result of months of committee work in both the House and Senate. I cannot emphasize enough how critically important it is to reauthorize PAHPA, and I encourage the Senate to quickly pass H.R. 269.
I would urge all Members to support this critical piece of legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.