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Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013. H.R. 307 is the product of a lengthy, but extremely productive, process with our Senate colleagues and their staff to come together to bridge the differences between earlier House and Senate reauthorization efforts. In January, the House passed H.R. 307 by a vote of 395 to 29. Just last week, the Senate passed an amendment to H.R. 307 that makes further refinements to the legislation. Today, with House passage of the Senate Amendment, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act will finally head to the President's desk for his signature.

Toward that end, H.R. 307 reauthorizes and makes minor--but important--improvements to various programs and activities first established in the 2002 Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act; 2004 Project Bioshield Act; and the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, or as it is commonly referred to, ``PAHPA.'' These programs and activities are key in helping to ensure that our nation is well prepared to successfully manage the effects of natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, and acts of bioterrorism.

H.R. 307 includes dozens of changes to these underlying authorities. Let me highlight just four provisions that deserve special attention:

First, the bill will ensure that the Food and Drug Administration focuses on medical countermeasures of the highest importance. Medical countermeasures are products designed to combat chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents.

H.R. 307 will facilitate communication between the FDA and product sponsors--particularly on high priority countermeasures for which sponsors have developed regulatory management plans--to resolve scientific and regulatory questions and help make these products available more quickly. Recently, FDA approved the first drug developed and procured under Project BioShield.

The FDA provisions in H.R. 307 will also facilitate the rapid provision of existing medicines to people in need during an emergency. Taken together, these FDA provisions--along with the renewed emphasis in our countermeasure enterprise through other parts of the legislation--will make it possible for a greater number of drugs and devices to move from early development to procurement.

Second, the legislation makes improvements to the nation's blueprint for public health preparedness and response activities that will enhance the ability of our diverse health care system to respond to mass casualty emergencies. Among such improvements are provisions to clarify the role of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response as the lead office within the Department of Health and Human Services for emergency preparedness and response.

H.R. 307 also establishes a new authority to permit the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to approve a request of a state, territory, or an Indian tribe to reassign certain federally-supported public health personnel during the time of a national emergency to geographic areas where these public health workers are needed most.

Finally, H.R. 307 continues support for investments in state and local public health departments. Such investments are necessary to make certain that we have the requisite public health infrastructure in place to respond immediately and appropriately to any public health threat that may arise.

This legislation reflects the effort of a number of Members and Senators--Democrats and Republicans alike. I'd like to commend my House colleagues and their staff who have been deeply involved in this process--Chairman UPTON, Chairman PITTS, Congressman ROGERS, Congressman GREEN, Congresswoman ESHOO, Congressman MARKEY, and our Health Subcommittee Ranking Member, Congressman PALLONE. I particularly want to thank Mr. PALLONE's staff member Tiffany Guarascio, as well as Chairman UPTON and Chairman PITTS' staff, Clay Alspach and Carly McWilliams. I would also like to express my appreciation to House Legislative Counsel Warren Burke and Jessica Shapiro for their efforts. I'd also like to recognize my Senate colleagues, Chairman HARKIN and Ranking Member ALEXANDER, and their staff for their contributions to this legislation. And finally, I'd like to thank my own staff for the incredibly hard work they have put into this legislation--Karen Nelson, Ruth Katz, Anne Morris Reid, Rachel Sher, and Eric Flamm.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 307.

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