Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013by Former Representative Henry A. Waxman
Posted on 2013-03-04
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.
[[Page H836]] 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.
Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act which will reauthorize certain provisions of the Project Bioshield Act of 2004 and Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.
This legislation was initially passed by Congress to help the U.S. develop medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism agents and to provide a mechanism for federal acquisition of those newly developed countermeasures.
Since the first part of the last session of Congress, we have been working with Senators to perfect the language. We have passed it several times in the House and after many months, the Senate has sent it back for our approval. I am pleased that we finally have a bill that can be sent to the President and I am proud to support it.
This bill is important because our nation remains vulnerable to these threats because many of the vaccines and medicines that are needed to protect our citizens do not exist.
Developing and stockpiling these medical countermeasures requires time, resources, and research. All of which will be provided under the legislation before us today. I am pleased that language I supported during the committee process aimed at increasing emphasis on regionalized trauma care systems was included in this final version.
This bill is also very important to me because the University of Texas Medical Branch's Galveston National Laboratory is in my backyard.
The Galveston National Lab is the only BSL-4 lab located on a university campus. At the lab, scientists conduct research to develop therapies, vaccines, and diagnostic tests for naturally occurring emerging diseases such as SARS and avian influenza--as well as for microbes that might be employed by terrorists.
This is exactly the type of research we hope to encourage under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act.
As an original cosponsor of this bill with Mr. Rogers, I am very pleased at how quickly we have moved this rare bipartisan piece of legislation.
I want to thank Mr. Rogers, Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Waxman, Ranking Member Pallone, Ms. Myrick, Ms. Eshoo, and Mr. Markey for their work on this important legislation.
I strongly urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this legislation.
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013, as amended by the Senate. This legislation will reauthorize programs first established in the 2002 Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, the 2004 Project Bioshield Act, and the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. These programs are crucial to ensuring that our Nation is prepared to respond to public health emergencies, including those caused by natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and bioterrorism.
The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 will reauthorize programs such as the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement, which provides grants to state and local health departments, the National Disaster Medical System, which helps manage the government's medical response in emergencies, and bio- surveillance programs, which help states coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track and detect disease outbreaks. The legislation also allows the Food and Drug Administration to collect and analyze data about the safety and efficacy of products used in emergencies.
Mr. Speaker, in our changing world, public health emergencies can be created by sources as various as disasters due to climate change, global epidemics from an increasingly interconnected planet, and terrorists who target us. As we face these threats, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and prepared for the sake of our children and our communities. The programs covered under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 serve as essential tools in our endeavor to protect the health of all Americans.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Pitts) that the House suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill, H.R. 307.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.