03.02.22

Murray and Burr Schedule Executive Session to Mark Up Bipartisan Bill Strengthening Nation’s Pandemic and Public Health Preparedness and Response Systems

Murray and Burr schedule March 15th HELP session to mark up PREVENT Pandemics Act, which they plan to introduce soon

 

Murray: “By advancing the PREVENT Pandemics Act we will show people across the country that members on both sides of the aisle understand how important it is we take action to protect families and our economy from ever being in a situation like this again.”

 

Burr: “As America continues to assess and learn from the effects of this pandemic, Senator Murray and I have made it a priority to work with our colleagues, public health experts, and private sector leaders on the PREVENT Pandemics Act to build on our nation’s preparedness and response framework for the future.”

 

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 the HELP Committee will hold an executive session on March 15th, to mark up the PREVENT Pandemics Act, legislation aimed at strengthening the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“Senator Burr and I are making steady progress in our bipartisan work to take as many commonsense steps as we can to learn from this pandemic and improve our response for whatever comes next,” said Chair Murray. “I look forward to introducing our legislation to strengthen our public health system soon, and marking it up in the HELP Committee later this month. By advancing the PREVENT Pandemics Act we will show people across the country that members on both sides of the aisle understand how important it is we take action to protect families and our economy from ever being in a situation like this again.”

 

“As America continues to assess and learn from the effects of this pandemic, Senator Murray and I have made it a priority to work with our colleagues, public health experts, and private sector leaders on the PREVENT Pandemics Act to build on our nation’s preparedness and response framework for the future,” said Ranking Member Burr. “This mark-up represents a critical step in our progress and getting this important bill across the finish line. We have worked together to incorporate necessary and urgent reforms, and we are looking forward to sharing them with our Committee colleagues. I look forward to introducing our legislation and advancing it through Committee to ensure our preparedness and response systems remain forward-looking in an ever-changing public health landscape.”

 

Earlier this year, Senator Murray and Senator Burr released a discussion draft of the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act). The discussion draft was 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. The Senators continue to work to incorporate ideas from multiple members on both sides of the aisle and feedback they’ve received on the discussion draft, and will be introducing an updated bill ahead of a March 15th executive session.

 

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 947,000 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 to Help People with Trauma, Depression, Substance Use Disorders, and More
  • Establish an Independent Task Force to Conduct a Comprehensive Review of the COVID-19 Response

 

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