Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Frank Pallone, Jr.
Date: Jan. 22, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013. Unfortunately, last month, before the end of the Congress, we were unable to get this final bill over the finish line, so I am grateful to Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman for agreeing to move quickly to get this bill passed and sent over to the Senate without further delay.

This bill is virtually identical to the House-passed bill last December. It reflects bipartisan work that took place between the House and Senate over several months late last year to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed PAHPRA 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. Of course, I think to my own district and State of New Jersey after we experienced a devastating storm that destroyed entire communities. The Federal Government's support, including through programs authorized by PAHPRA, was critical in the wake of this hurricane 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 Act. Over the past decade, these programs have represented comprehensive efforts to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. As a result of the investments that followed, our Nation is better equipped to respond to public health emergencies.

I just want to take a few moments to highlight ways that H.R. 307 will continue the progress we've made over the past decade:

First, the bill further facilitates the development of medical countermeasures through emphasizing medical countermeasure 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, it bolsters the Nation's medical and public health preparedness and response infrastructure, including through a new authority that would allow States to deploy personnel funded through Federal programs to the areas within their State where they are 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;

Finally, 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.

Mr. Speaker, H.R. 307 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 just wanted to thank the Congressmen. First, I want to thank my colleague, who is about to speak, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, for all her work on this legislation over the years; also, obviously, Mike Rogers and Congressman Gene Green. These are different people who have authored the legislation over the years.

I would also like to recognize the contributions of Chairman Upton, Chairman Pitts, Ranking Member Waxman, and Congressman Markey 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 they should be commended for their work.

I urge Members to join me in supporting passage of H.R. 307. I am hopeful that our Senate colleagues will move forward on this bill's passage so we can get it to the President's desk as quickly as possible.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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