Buoyed by strong bipartisan support, the House Homeland Security Committee today unanimously approved legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) aimed at providing a national plan of prevention and preparedness against weapons of mass destruction attack in the United States. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010 (H.R. 5498) passed the committee with the vote of 26-0.
"Since December 2008 when the WMD Commission released their World at Risk report Ranking Member King and I have been working to craft this comprehensive legislation to address their recommendations," said Pascrell, one of the original members of the House Homeland Security Committee. "The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010 that we passed through the Committee today is an extensive blueprint to address the greatest catastrophic risk we face -- and I am proud to say it has earned the endorsement of the WMD Commission. Chairman Thompson should be applauded for holding hearings and pushing our bill through the Committee today, it is my hope that the others Committees of jurisdiction will take up this critical legislation just as expeditiously and bring it to the House floor for a vote."
In December 2008, the WMD Commission, headed by Sen. Bob Graham and Sen. Jim Talent, issued its original report. In January 2010, the Commission issued a "report card' that gave mixed grades for U.S. efforts, including three "F's" for U.S. failure to effectively prepare for a biological attack, failure to implement retention and recruiting programs for the next generation of national security experts, and failure on the part of Congress to reform Congressional oversight to better address intelligence, homeland security and other national security missions.
H.R. 5498 is the House companion to S. 1649, introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins.
The original co-sponsors of H.R. 5498 include House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS-2), Ranking HSC Committee Member Peter T. King (R-NY-3), HSC Subcommittee on Emerging Threats Chairwoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-11), and HSC member Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-CA).