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Mr. WAXMAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6672, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2012, and urge my colleagues to support this bill as well.
Madam Speaker, this legislation has been a long time coming. The House version of the bill passed this body over one year ago; the Senate version was adopted in March of this year. Since that time we have been engaged in a lengthy, but extremely productive process with our Senate colleagues and their staff to come together to bridge the differences between the two bills. H.R. 6672 is the product of that effort. It is our hope that the Senate will pass the bill as soon as possible after the House acts on the legislation today, allowing the critical work authorized under the legislation to continue.
Toward that end, H.R. 6672 reauthorizes and makes minor--but important--improvements to various programs and activities first established in the 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. 6672 includes dozens of changes to these underlying authorities. Let me highlight just three provisions that deserve special attention:
The bill targets the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, to ensure that it focuses on medical countermeasures--that is, products designed to combat chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear agents--of the highest importance. It requires FDA to work with industry on industry-submitted regulatory management plans for prioritized countermeasures to facilitate scientific exchanges between the FDA and countermeasure product sponsors to streamline our ability to make these products available. Just last Friday, FDA approved the first drug developed and procured under Project BioShield. Raxibacumab is approved for use together with antibiotics to treat anthrax in children and adults. The FDA provisions in H.R. 6672--together with the renewed emphasis in our countermeasure enterprise through other provisions in this legislation--will make it possible for even more drugs and devices to move from early development to procurement.
The legislation also 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 clarifying the role of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response as the lead office within the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, for emergency preparedness and response. H.R. 6672 also establishes a new authority to permit the HHS Secretary to approve a request of a state, territory, or an Indian tribe to redeploy certain federally-supported employees during the time of a national emergency to geographic areas where such employees are needed most.
In addition, H.R. 6672 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--Democrats and Republicans alike. On our side of the aisle Congressman Green, Congresswoman Eshoo, Congressman Markey, and our Health Subcommittee Ranking Member--Congressman Pallone--have been deeply involved. I want to thank them and their staff for all the long and incredibly hard work they have put into this legislation and to the process of getting us here today.
I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 6672.
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