The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bipartisan bill written by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, MI-08 and a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which would protect the United States against pandemics and attacks from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
"Terrorists continue to actively seek out biological or chemical weapons to carry out horrific attacks against us," said Rogers, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "We must act to prepare for such threats that we continue to face on a daily basis more than 10 years after 9/11."
Rogers' bill, H.R. 2405, which is supported by the administration, reauthorizes portions of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which Rogers originally authored in 2006. BARDA bridges the funding gap between early-stage research and the actual procurement of medical countermeasures such as vaccines and medications.
The bill also reauthorizes Project BioShield's Special Reserve Fund, which was created to procure medical countermeasures against anthrax, smallpox, botulism and other threats for the Strategic National Stockpile.
Additionally, the bill reauthorizes public health preparedness programs, strengthens the Food and Drug Administration's role in reviewing medical countermeasures, and enhances the role of the Department of Health and Human Services' Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
"I hope and pray that we never need to use such defensive measures, but they are critical to ensuring that the public stands protected," Rogers said. "We need to continue to expedite their development and strengthen the national stockpile. Quite simply, we must always prepare for the worst."