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ICYMI: HELP Committee Passes Bipartisan Murray-Burr PREVENT Pandemics Act in 20-2 Vote

PREVENT Pandemics Act takes common sense steps to act on lessons learned from the pandemic response and improve the nation’s preparedness for future public health emergencies


Public health experts, officials, and industry stakeholders applaud important steps in bipartisan bill


Washington, D.C. – Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced out of committee—in an overwhelming 20-2 vote—Chair Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) bipartisan Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act).


The legislation strengthens the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems and is the result of bipartisan efforts Senator Murray and Senator Burr kicked off nearly a year ago to examine what has worked, and what has not, during the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill Senator Murray and Senator Burr passed in the Committee incorporates ideas from 41 different bills and 35 of their Senate colleagues including several added during mark up as amendments, the ARPA-H Act they introduced recently, and feedback on a discussion draft the Senators released earlier this year.


Coverage and response to the news below:


Response from public health officials, experts, and industry:


American Academy of Family Physicians: Thanks, @HELPCmteDems & @GOPHELP for meeting to consider and mark up @PattyMurray and @SenatorBurr’s bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act. @AAFP supports this bill, as it takes important steps to improve pandemic preparedness.


National Rural Health Association: We would like to thank the @HELPCmteDems @GOPHELP on their work today on S. 3799 PREVENT Pandemics Act. All members truly displayed how bipartisan efforts work together to protect vulnerable communities. Thank you to the Senators who are working on protecting #ruralhealth.


Karen Fisher, JD, Chief Public Policy Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges: I appreciate @HELPcmtedems @GOPHELP's mark up of the PREVENT Pandemics Act. The continued partnership between academic medicine and public health will be crucial as we work to prevent and respond to the next pandemic.


American Academy of NursingThe Academy strongly supports efforts to improve public health systems. The PREVENT Pandemics Act presents a clear path forward to make critical changes & improve public health preparedness capabilities for future emergencies.


Daniel P. McQuillen, MD, FIDSA, President, Infectious Diseases Society of America: Important day on behalf of the next generation of ID professionals. #IDLoanRepayment included in bipartisan Senate PREVENT Pandemics Act. #WeAreID


Former Sens. Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, Bipartisan Policy Center: BPC applauds today’s Senate HELP Committee vote in support of the PREVENT Pandemics Act. This legislation would strengthen our nation’s preparedness and response efforts so that we can mitigate the impacts of future pandemics. …. It is encouraging to see Republicans and Democrats demonstrate their commitment to bolstering the public health infrastructure and future pandemic response of this country through this important legislation.


U.S. Pharmacopeia: USP applauds Senate HELP Cmte passage of the bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act led by Sen @PattyMurray and @SenatorBurr w/ provisions supporting public health data availability and novel #medicines manufacturing approaches. #PandemicPreparedness


Sema Sgaier, PhD, Assistant Professor of Global Health, University of Washington: PREVENT Pandemics Act is an opportunity to FINALLY give @CDCgov the authority to standardize & coordinate data across jurisdictions. And this would jumpstart longer-term rebuilding & modernization of public health data infrastructure.


Abe Saffer, American Occupational Therapy Association: The Senate HELP Committee has sent the PREVENT Pandemics Act to the full Senate for consideration and passage, and the language to create the Allied Health Workforce Diversity program was included! Miles to go, but this is a huge win! Stay tuned, all!


HIV Medicine Association: Thank you Senator @PattyMurray & @SenatorBurr for your leadership & for including the Bio-Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program in the PREVENT Pandemics Act. Critical support to ensure the next generation of the #IDWorkforce!


Phyllis Arthur, Vice President of Infectious Diseases & Diagnostics Policy, Biotechnology Innovation Organization: Two years into this pandemic, it’s time to reflect on successes, mistakes, and lessons learned to better prepare for future health threats. Thankfully, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will convene Wednesday to discuss a bill aimed at building a better plan for addressing current and future viral health threats…

The bill would modernize public health data, improve communication among federal, state, and local health officials, and invest in emergency medical services, among other actions. These steps are critical to prepare us to address future pandemics. And it’s encouraging that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the importance of being proactive when it comes to public health emergencies to save lives.


Chester “Chip” Davis, Jr., President and CEO, Healthcare Distribution Alliance: HDA and our members proudly support the PREVENT Pandemics Act as a path toward a more coordinated national response to future public health emergencies. This is the most comprehensive piece of U.S. legislation that has been introduced to address public health preparedness to pandemics and other natural disasters, and we are pleased that the bill includes provisions to strengthen public-private partnerships to bolster the Strategic National Stockpile and the distribution of critical medicines and supplies.


David Scala, American Physical Therapy Association: We’re pleased that the bill has made it out of committee and is ready for consideration by the full Senate, and APTA will be working for its passage.

Coverage of the announcement:


Washington Post: Congress could create a bipartisan coronavirus pandemic review


“The Senate HELP Committee is set to vote today on a sweeping bill to combat future pandemics — a bright spot of bipartisanship amid a pandemic that’s polarized the country. The panel’s chair, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and top Republican, Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), hashed out the plan for nearly a year.


“The legislation includes measures to improve disease data collection, bolster oversight of health agencies and support research on long covid. The panel also plans to consider a measure establishing President Biden’s new agency to speed up medical research as part of the broader pandemic package dubbed the Prevent Pandemics Act.” [Rachel Roubein, 3/15/22]


The Hill: Senate panel advances pandemic preparedness bill on bipartisan vote


“The Senate Health Committee on Tuesday advanced on a broad bipartisan vote a bill aimed at improving preparedness for future pandemics.


“The 20-2 vote, with GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Braun (Ind.) voting no, illustrates that there are some areas for bipartisan cooperation around improving the country’s response to pandemics, even amid a fierce battle over funding.” [Peter Sullivan, 3/15/22]


AP: Pandemic preparedness bill moves ahead; funding still needed


“A Senate committee has approved a bipartisan blueprint to overhaul the nation’s public health system, applying the lessons of COVID-19 to future outbreaks through a new chain of command, a stronger medical supply chain, and clearer crisis communications. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee approved the PREVENT Pandemics Act by a vote of 20-2 Tuesday.


“[Chair Murray] and ranking Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina worked for over a year on the contours of the bill, which also calls for a national task force modeled on the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong in the coronavirus response and make recommendations to the president and Congress. And the legislation incorporates creation of a new advanced medical research and development agency — dubbed ARPA-H — that President Joe Biden has called for.” [Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/16/22]


Washington Post: Lawmakers push pandemic probe modeled on 9/11 Commission


A Senate panel voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to establish an independent task force to probe the U.S. response to the pandemic — the closest lawmakers have come to supporting such an investigation, two years into the crisis.


“Until now, efforts to unite Washington around such an effort have largely failed, although surveys show that many Americans have concerns about the government’s response.” [Dan Diamond, 3/15/22]


Los Angeles Times: Editorial: It’s been two years of COVID. It’s time for a full accounting of our response


“No one wants to admit mistakes, but a look back will require an honest inventory of the U.S. failures and successes. Happily there’s bipartisan support for such an endeavor as part of the PREVENT Pandemics Act introduced in January by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Among other things, the bill would establish a 12-member task force modeled on the 9/11 commission that would examine both the origins of the virus and the federal and state responses.” [Editorial Board, 3/13/22]


Government Executive: A Bipartisan Bill Making It Easier for Agencies to Hire During Pandemics Is Gaining Momentum


“A bipartisan bill to better prepare the United States for future pandemics that is gaining momentum in Congress would reform certain federal hiring practices and boost interagency collaboration in an effort to reduce the mistakes that hobbled the government during the COVID-19 outbreak.” [Eric Katz, 3/18/22]