June 2, 2023 2:49 pm

Almost two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to safeguard our nation and prepare for organic disasters and biological, chemical and radiological threats. Due to the fact then, the provisions enacted in that legislation and subsequent reauthorizations have verified important to shoring up our public wellness infrastructure and guarding our national wellness safety. 

With PAHPA up for reauthorization once again this year, we applaud the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Wellness, Education, Labor and Pensions and Property Power &amp Commerce Committees for starting the important function of guaranteeing that our nation’s preparedness applications are adequately funded, sustained and enhanced.

The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We intimately skilled these attacks, as one particular of the sitting members targeted with anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesman on anthrax and bioterrorism charged with easing public fears (Frist).

Collectively, we worked to create the legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Wellness Safety and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Workplace of Public Wellness Emergency Preparedness, which was accountable for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public wellness threats. Currently, these efforts are run by the Division of Wellness and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Readiness and Response.

4 years later, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed PAHPA to bolster our emergency preparedness and response capabilities by authorizing a lot of of the federal government’s biodefense and pandemic preparedness applications, like the agency now recognized as the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the National Wellness Safety Strategy and the Biomedical Sophisticated Investigation and Improvement Authority. With bipartisan reauthorizations in 2013 and 2019, PAHPA established new applications to improve our nation’s emergency response, including Project BioShield, and enacted measures to strengthen the function of the Meals and Drug Administration in the improvement of health-related countermeasures.

Due to the fact PAHPA’s inception and subsequent reauthorizations, each Republicans and Democrats showed overwhelming assistance for strengthening our nation’s preparedness for the complete variety of organic or manmade threats and hazards. Defending our nation’s wellness and nicely-getting ought to not be a partisan concern, and we contact on our leaders to continue that bipartisan tradition.

This year will mark the initially time Congress will be tasked with reauthorizing PAHPA following the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress need to take the lessons we’ve discovered more than the previous 3 years to improve our nation’s preparedness capabilities ahead of the subsequent pandemic — as it is not a query of if, but when, the subsequent one particular will happen. We urge Congress to steer clear of becoming distracted by previous partisan fights or tangential policy difficulties. Our nation’s preparedness is as well crucial to jeopardize, and these important applications need to not be permitted to lapse.   

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Congress has taken meaningful actions to increase our public wellness preparedness all through the COVID-19 pandemic, like the enactment of the bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act in final year’s omnibus appropriations package. Congress has shown, time and time once again, that it recognizes the basic value of fortifying our defenses against disasters and public wellness crises. On the other hand, a lot remains to be accomplished. 

We urge Congress to capitalize on this momentum to bolster our national safety and improve our public wellness preparedness by reauthorizing PAHPA prior to its expiration on Oct. 1.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a Bipartisan Policy Center co-founder, served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and as Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003. Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a BPC senior fellow, is a doctor. He served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and as Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2007.

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