Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Frank Pallone, Jr.
Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I'm pleased to rise in support of H.R. 6672, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2012. This bill reflects bipartisan work that has taken place between the House and Senate over the last several months to resolve differences between the House and Senate-passed PAHPA reauthorization bills.

We all know very well that our Nation continues to face threats that require an ongoing commitment to public health and emergency preparedness. Just recently we experienced a devastating storm along the east coast--Hurricane Sandy--that destroyed entire communities in coastal New Jersey and New York, including areas within my district. The Federal Government's support, including through programs authorized by PAHPA, was critical in the wake of this disaster.

The legislation before us today reauthorizes programs and activities first established as part of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, the 2004 Project Bioshield Act, and the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness.

In the wake of 9/11, Congress placed a high priority on biodefense. Congress first passed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to improve the Nation's ability to respond to acts of biological terrorism.

In 2004, we passed the Project Bioshield Act with tremendous bipartisan support, and Democrats and Republicans worked together to authorize the development, procurement, and emergency use of medical countermeasures for biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear threats.

We then identified some shortfalls, and in 2006 worked to amend and build upon the existing BioShield program and Department of Health and Human Services authorities by passing PAHPA. For example, PAHPA charged the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response with the Department's public health and medical response. It required, a National Health Security Strategy to guide the Department's preparedness and response efforts, reauthorize grants to improve State and local public health and hospital preparedness, and establish the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority to spur development of medical countermeasures.

Together, BioShield and PAHPA represent more comprehensive efforts to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, whether they're naturally occurring events like the H1N1 outbreak, or those that are deliberate, such as anthrax attacks. As a result of these bills and the investments that followed, our Nation is better equipped to respond to public health emergencies.

I'd just like to take a few moments, Madam Speaker, to highlight ways that H.R. 6672 will continue the progress we've made over the past decade.

First, the bill further facilitates the development of medical countermeasures through emphasizing medical countermeasures advancement in the National Health Security Strategy; requiring the development of a 5-year budget analysis of the countermeasure enterprise; and calling for the development of a countermeasure strategy and implementation plan.

Second, Madam Speaker, H.R. 6672 bolsters the Nation's medical and public health preparedness and response infrastructure, including through a new authority that would allow States to redeploy personnel funded through Federal programs to the areas within their State where they're most needed in the aftermath of a disaster.

Third, it strengthens and clarifies the position of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response as the lead for HHS on emergency preparedness and response and calls for streamlining and better coordinating HHS preparedness grants with those of other departments.

Next, it places even greater emphasis on the special needs of pediatric and other at-risk populations in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

Finally, H.R. 6672 improves FDA's emergency response capabilities. It will enable FDA to authorize the distribution and use of medical countermeasures in preparation for an emergency and to take actions during an emergency that will allow for the most effective use of medical countermeasures.

I'd like to thank Congressman Mike Rogers, Congressman Gene Green, and their staff who authored the original House legislation, H.R. 2405. I'd like to recognize the contributions of Chairman Upton, Chairman Pitts, Ranking Member Waxman, Congresswoman Eshoo, and Congressman Markey, and their staff in strengthening the legislation as it moved through the committee process and in discussions with the Senate. They have all worked in a bipartisan fashion over the past 1 1/2 years to accomplish the goals of our Members and should be commended for their work.

I also urge Members to join me in supporting passage of H.R. 6672. I'm hopeful that our Senate colleagues will similarly support this bill's passage so we can get the bill to the President's desk.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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