• Wed. May 31st, 2023

We know firsthand: Public well being safety is national safety


May 26, 2023

Practically two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to guard our nation and prepare for organic disasters and biological, chemical and radiological threats. Considering the fact that then, the provisions enacted in that legislation and subsequent reauthorizations have confirmed crucial to shoring up our public well being infrastructure and defending our national well being safety. 

With PAHPA up for reauthorization once more this year, we applaud the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Well being, Education, Labor and Pensions and Home Power &amp Commerce Committees for starting the crucial perform of making sure that our nation’s preparedness applications are adequately funded, sustained and enhanced.

The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We intimately knowledgeable these attacks, as a single of the sitting members targeted with anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesman on anthrax and bioterrorism charged with easing public fears (Frist).

Collectively, we worked to make the legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Well being Safety and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Workplace of Public Well being Emergency Preparedness, which was accountable for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public well being threats. Currently, these efforts are run by the Division of Well being and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Readiness and Response.

4 years later, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed PAHPA to bolster our emergency preparedness and response capabilities by authorizing a lot of of the federal government’s biodefense and pandemic preparedness applications, like the agency now identified as the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the National Well being Safety Strategy and the Biomedical Sophisticated Investigation and Improvement Authority. With bipartisan reauthorizations in 2013 and 2019, PAHPA established new applications to boost our nation’s emergency response, including Project BioShield, and enacted measures to strengthen the function of the Meals and Drug Administration in the improvement of healthcare countermeasures.

Considering the fact that PAHPA’s inception and subsequent reauthorizations, each Republicans and Democrats showed overwhelming assistance for strengthening our nation’s preparedness for the complete variety of organic or manmade threats and hazards. Guarding our nation’s well being and nicely-becoming need to not be a partisan challenge, and we get in touch with on our leaders to continue that bipartisan tradition.

This year will mark the very first time Congress will be tasked with reauthorizing PAHPA following the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress ought to take the lessons we’ve discovered more than the previous 3 years to boost our nation’s preparedness capabilities ahead of the subsequent pandemic — as it is not a query of if, but when, the subsequent a single will happen. We urge Congress to stay clear of becoming distracted by previous partisan fights or tangential policy concerns. Our nation’s preparedness is as well critical to jeopardize, and these crucial applications ought to not be permitted to lapse.   

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Congress has taken meaningful methods to strengthen our public well being preparedness all through the COVID-19 pandemic, like the enactment of the bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act in final year’s omnibus appropriations package. Congress has shown, time and time once more, that it recognizes the basic significance of fortifying our defenses against disasters and public well being crises. Even so, a great deal remains to be completed. 

We urge Congress to capitalize on this momentum to bolster our national safety and boost our public well being preparedness by reauthorizing PAHPA ahead of its expiration on Oct. 1.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a Bipartisan Policy Center co-founder, served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and as Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003. Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a BPC senior fellow, is a doctor. He served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and as Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2007.

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