TO THE HOUSE FLOOR: Brooks, Eshoo Legislation to Combat Biodefense Threats
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) introduced H.R. 6378, the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 (PAHPA) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to pass the bill, sending it to the House floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives. Congresswoman Brooks spoke in support of the legislation during the Committee’s mark-up:
WATCH Brooks’ remarks during the Committee vote HERE.
For a list of the more than 40 organizations who support this legislation, click here.
TRANSCRIPT OF PREPARED REMARKS:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for bringing the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 – what we call PAHPA – before our Committee today, and to all Committee members for their work and contributions to the bill. 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.
“This bipartisan public health and national security effort will ensure our nation is better prepared to respond to natural disasters, emerging infectious diseases, and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks whether from terrorist groups or from nation states.
“I was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana in 2001during anthrax attacks, which infected more than 17 people and killed 5, and paralyzed our nation’s capital. Not only was Congress a target with letters containing anthrax spores but my own US Attorney’s office in Indiana dealt with a hoax when we received a letter with powder inside.
“In the 17 years since then, the threat of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident continues to grow. Everyday our adversaries are looking for more effective and faster ways to produce a threat. As everyone here knows, it is not a question of if we will face a threat – a threat that is constantly changing - it is a question of when.
“Our bill reflects extensive feedback from the full range of medical and public health preparedness and response stakeholders. I’d like to request that the Chairman submit the list of more than 40 organizations supporting this legislation for the record.
“The bill ensures our preparedness and response capabilities will include a robust pipeline of medical countermeasures as it reauthorizes and increases funding for the BioShield Special Reserve Fund and BARDA - the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The development of medical countermeasures is a lengthy and often risky endeavor, which is why sending a clear signal that BARDA remains a strong and committed partner with academic institutions and the private sector in these efforts is so important.
“The development of vaccines and drugs is a challenging process. And, although naturally occurring smallpox has been eradicated around the globe, at least two labs – including one in Russia – have live samples of the virus that could be weaponized. But, thanks to PAHPA and the 21st Century Cures Act, we are more prepared for these kinds of threats. Last Friday, the FDA approved the first drug to treat smallpox – TPOXX. TPOXX is not the only recent approval at the FDA. Days before that on July 10th, the FDA approved an autoinjector which provides a one-time dose of an antidote to block effects of a nerve agent.
“In order to ensure we are better prepared when we face an outbreak like Zika or Ebola, our PAHPA improves the existing Emergency Response Fund so that the Secretary does not have to wait on approval from Congress to immediately fund the response measures needed to counteract an outbreak and save lives.
“After the devastating hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico, we know we need to do better to prioritize the needs of every person in our communities, and our bill does just that. It prioritizes our nation’s most vulnerable populations – our children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. It reauthorizes the advisory committee focused on the specific needs of children, and creates NEW advisory committees to ensure the needs of the elderly and people with disabilities are considered.
“Our bill also ensures more heath care professionals like nurses and doctors can be hired and trained when facing a public health crisis by strengthening the National Disaster Medical System, which provides grants to our regional health care network. It also ensures we have a robust supply of vaccines, basic equipment like gloves, hazmat suits, masks and more in our Strategic National Stockpiles located all across the country, so these professionals have the equipment they need.
“As a Committee, we have heard a lot about the important role of diagnostics, and in particular, point-of-care diagnostics. Mr. Chairman, as we move forward, I ask the Committee to continue to consider ways to utilize diagnostics in a more meaningful way in order to identify infectious diseases and prevent antimicrobial resistance.
“I cannot emphasize enough how critically important it is to reauthorize PAHPA before it expires at the end of September. We have a duty as Members of Congress to keep Americans safe and secure, and this bill is an essential component of accomplishing that goal. Thank you for your attention to this issue and I look forward to continued dialogue with my colleagues as we work to get this to the President’s desk.”