Murray and Burr Release PREVENT Pandemics Act Ahead of Committee Mark Up Next Week
PREVENT Pandemics Act takes common sense steps to act on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic response and improve the nation’s preparedness for future public health emergencies
The HELP Committee will vote on the legislation at a mark up hearing next week
Murray: “If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we never want to go through a pandemic like this again.”
Burr: “This legislation is critical to building on our preparedness and response framework to ensure we remain vigilant against the next challenge or threat.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ranking Member, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), announced they are introducing the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act), bipartisan legislation focused on strengthening the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation is the result of months of bipartisan efforts to examine what has worked, and what has not, during the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and incorporates ideas from multiple members on both sides of the aisle and feedback on a discussion draft the Senators released earlier this year.
“If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we never want to go through a pandemic like this again,” said Chair Murray. “That’s why Senator Burr and I are introducing bipartisan legislation to make sure we fully learn the lessons of this pandemic and improve our public health and medical preparedness and response systems. I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work on this bill and look forward to passing it and showing families across the country that Congress is serious about ensuring we are better prepared to protect our economy, our communities, and our families the next time a crisis like this strikes.”
“Today’s introduction marks a significant step in nearly a year of Committee work reviewing our nation’s pandemic response,” said Ranking Member Burr. “As we continue to take stock of the lessons learned throughout the pandemic, this legislation is critical to building on our preparedness and response framework to ensure we remain vigilant against the next challenge or threat. Central to this bill are reforms to improve CDC accountability and transparency to address the systemic and cultural failures at the agency, support federal leadership and coordination through the establishment of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy at the White House to serve as ‘mission control,’ and shore up our nation’s laboratory safety and security architecture. I’m proud to work alongside Senator Murray on this important legislation and I look forward to next week’s mark-up to determine how we can further improve the bill with the help of our colleagues.”
The legislation the Senators are introducing builds on the discussion draft with additional provisions to improve biosafety and biosecurity related to biomedical research, address undue foreign influence in biomedical research, bolster the public health and allied health workforces, strengthen collaboration regarding the blood supply, update the CDC Director's ability to appoint and regularly review leadership within the agency, and establish a new office in the White House to oversee pandemic preparedness and response activities. The Senators are also introducing a proposal soon to move with the legislation that seeks to strengthen and support cutting-edge advanced biomedical research such as the Advanced Research Projects Authority for Health (ARPA-H).
The Senators plan to mark up the legislation in the HELP Committee hearing next Tuesday.
About the PREVENT Pandemics Act:
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous damage to families and communities across the country. It wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, closed schools and businesses, devastated the nation’s mental health, exhausted public health and health care workers, and killed more than 950,000 people. The full cost of this crisis is devastating and immeasurable.
It has also put a harsh spotlight on some of the longstanding challenges the United States’ public health preparedness systems face and brought to light unanticipated challenges. Broken supply chains and inadequate stockpiles led to shortages of masks, ventilators, and other medical products. Tests throughout the response have been either critically delayed or scarce, leaving workers, schools, and communities unable to make informed, timely decisions about how to keep themselves and those around them safe. Outdated and inconsistent public health data systems made it hard for federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial public health departments to get a full picture of the crisis and inform their responses. The nation’s public health and health care workforce was overwhelmed. Mental health and substance use disorder challenges and health disparities, which were already damaging to so many communities, worsened during this crisis.
To address these challenges, the discussion draft of the PREVENT Pandemics Act includes steps to:
- Improve Strategy and Coordination Among Our Public Health Preparedness Agencies
- Strengthen Supply Chain and Government Stockpiles of Medical Products, Such as Masks, Drugs, Vaccines, and Tests
- Ensure the CDC’s Accountability and Leadership by Requiring a Senate-confirmed CDC Director and an Agency-wide Strategic Plan
- Improve Our Capabilities to Detect and Monitor Emerging Infectious Disease and Other Threats, Including Updates to Public Health Data to Quickly Provide Comprehensive, Actionable Insight During Public Health Emergencies
- Enhance the Development and Review of Tests, Treatments, and Vaccines, and Mitigate Critical Shortages of Medical Products
- Address Disparities Which Make Public Health Emergencies Harder On At-Risk Populations and Communities
- Improve Public Health Communication and Address Misinformation
- Revitalize the Public and Community Health Workforce
- Accelerate Biomedical Research to Develop Medical Countermeasures for Pandemic Threats, and Enhance Research on the Long-term Effects of COVID-19 and Faster Test Development
- Ensure Continued Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services During Public Health Emergency Responses
- Establish an Independent Task Force to Conduct a Comprehensive Review of the COVID-19 Response
A section-by-section of the PREVENT Pandemics Act is available HERE.
Legislative text of the PREVENT Pandemics Act is available HERE.
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