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Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ESHOO. I thank our ranking member, Mr. Pallone, for his leadership on the committee and for yielding time to me.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act. This is legislation that I wrote, together with Congressman Mike Rogers, going back to when we first introduced it in 2006, in order to better help our country prepare for a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack--all of the things that are really unthinkable; but in a post-9/11 era, we had to be prepared, and we developed this legislation. So it pleases me enormously that we are now reauthorizing it.

Right now, the American people are left wondering what the heck the Congress is doing--why we can't come together, why we can't work in a bipartisan way and develop consensus. Do you know what? On this bill, we are, and I am very proud of that. Developing and stockpiling appropriate countermeasures is essential for the safety of the American people, and these programs encourage American companies to invest in areas of critical need.

The bill before us today includes new provisions, which I think really enhance what we did originally, provisions that highlight the important needs of our Nation's children. Children are not just little adults. They need special care and medical attention. They are especially vulnerable to biological or chemical agents because of their size, their limited capacity to flush out toxins, their underdeveloped motor skills, and their total reliance on their parents or other caregivers.

I know firsthand the importance of stockpiling vaccines critical to our public health. I recently visited a company in my district, Bavarian Nordic. It is a company which clearly demonstrates that technical expertise and investment in this area must be backed by the government's commitment to preparedness. Because medical countermeasures don't always have a natural commercial market, it is our responsibility--right here in the Congress--to encourage and incent private companies to develop them. When I was meeting with them, they told me that, when we were considering the original legislation and then passed it, they were immediately invested in it by the sum of some $80 million because there was confidence in that particular market.

This legislation is supported by many, but I think it's a real honor roll in terms of the groups and organizations: the American Public Health Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the Trust for America's Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This legislation, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, did pass the House last month; and with minor changes, it passed the Senate last week, as my colleagues have said on both sides of the aisle. Today, I, once again, urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the Senate-amended bill so that it may swiftly be sent to the President for his signature. I think, together, we will have something to celebrate because this is not only important, but it can and will make a difference for the American people.

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