WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives Monday (March 4) in strong support of bipartisan legislation to continue strengthening the nation’s preparedness infrastructure and support the development of medical countermeasures to better respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 307) was initially passed by the House on January 22, 2013. A near identical version of the bill passed the Senate last Wednesday, February 27, by unanimous consent. The amended Senate bill passed the House Monday evening by a bipartisan vote of 370 to 28 and will next head to the President to be signed into law.
Here’s the text of Upton’s full Floor remarks follow:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and certainly tonight I stand in support of this legislation, H.R. 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013. This legislation is going to help our nation’s families, local communities, first responders, and innovators as we prepare for, and respond to, public health emergencies, including those caused by terrorist attacks. As the nation recovers from a severe flu season, the need to pass this legislation is ever more apparent.
This bill is going to help families by requiring that the special needs of our nation’s children are taken into account as medical countermeasures move through the FDA process and are purchased for the Strategic National Stockpile. The bill also would require the Department of Health and Human Services to improve public health emergency preparedness, response, outreach, and communications with respect to children.
H.R. 307 also would aid local communities and those on the front lines in disaster response, providing assistance to local law enforcement, emergency management, and public health officials in planning, training, and preparing for emergencies, so that if disaster strikes, their communities are ready. Last month, I had the opportunity to address the American Burn Association here in Washington. The bill’s Hospital Preparedness Program is critical to help them as it helps hospitals prepare for disasters that would result in a surge in the need for medical care.
In addition, this legislation is going to help innovators as they develop medical countermeasures that may be necessary in the event of a biological, nuclear, radiological, or chemical attack. The bill contains provisions to improve the predictability, consistency and transparency of the FDA process. These improvements will assist innovators in getting their medical countermeasures across the finish line.
It is also important to note that H.R. 307 would reauthorize programs for five years at the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriated level. This bill would not create new programs, and according to CBO as Mr. Pitts said, would not increase spending.
The House bill passed back in January, and the Senate passed a nearly identical version of the bill last week by unanimous consent. Upon House approval today, this critical legislation will in fact head to the President to be signed into law, ensuring that our nation is preparing for the unthinkable.
I want to thank all of the members who have worked on this issue, not only this year but last year. Certainly Mr. Rogers of Michigan, Chairman Pitts, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Pallone, and Mrs. Eshoo. I also want to thank Senators Harkin, Alexander, Enzi and Burr for their leadership on this issue as we got together and got this bill ready tonight.
At this point, I would yield back and urge my colleagues to support the bill. I yield back the balance of my time.
Source: News release from Congressman Fred Upton