Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Scott Peters released a discussion draft of the Biosecurity Infrastructure for Operational Early Warning Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at treating public health situational awareness and disease detection as a national security priority.
The legislation would:
- Require increased coordination with the Intelligence Community (IC) for foreign threats and oversight in Congress.
- Require Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) to develop a stockpiling requirement for technology to ensure the safe collection, storage, and transportation of biological hazards.
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with other executive departments to create a Biological Attribution Strategy.
- Amend the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) duties to include a new “Early Warning” responsibility.
- Amend ASPR functions to include an operational role for HHS disease detection programs, including a new Early Warning program that outlines public private partnerships.
- Require ASPR to work with and streamline duplication between disease detection programs at the Department of Defense; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Homeland Security; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Department of Agriculture.
New technology, including wastewater detection, has broad applications for health security, including efforts to proactively address infectious disease and the ongoing fentanyl crisis.
“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Rep. Peters – as technology develops, so should our strategy to tackle disease detection and increase public health early-warning capabilities,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw said. “The American people must be protected from future epidemics, pandemics, and emerging threats of every kind, and this legislation would do just that – while also ramping up innovation to confront other health risks, like the deadly fentanyl epidemic that kills thousands of Americans a year.”
“One of the most important lessons we learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic is that early detection and warning will be the best tool we have to prevent the next pandemic,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “Our BIO Early Warning Act will create such a program and streamline the federal government's ability to coordinate a fast and effective response. I look forward to working with Representative Crenshaw to solicit feedback on our proposal and introduce a bill that prepares us for this critical public health and national security threat.”
Medical leaders from around Texas applauded the BIO Early Warning Act.
“To meet the public health challenges of the 21st century, it will require the federal government to partner with academic health science centers. TMC saw firsthand the positive impact of collaborative response to COVID-19 within the Houston community as well as an early warning system through the study of Houston’s wastewater. Each of our academic centers, hospital systems, city and county public health teams, came together to provide a united front in Houston’s response.” - Bill McKeon, CEO of Texas Medical Center
"We believe partnerships between the federal government and academic labs are essential to combatting health threats and preventing the next public health emergency. Houston Methodist is pleased to support Congressman Crenshaw’s Early Warning legislation for enhancing and modernizing our nation’s detection capabilities." - Dr. Dirk Sostman, President of Houston Methodist Academic Institute
“As we learned from the COVID-19 outbreak, it is essential for the United States to develop early-warning capabilities to detect and protect the American people from future public health crises. Early warning means anticipating and identifying emerging threats, not just known ones. Public health threats that emerge and establish themselves before detection are much harder to respond to and have the potential to threaten the well-being of our people, damage our economy, and undermine national security. The United States is the world leader in health-related technologies. We should commit ourselves to developing and deploying early warning systems to safeguard our people.” - Dr. Yousif Shamoo, Professor of BioSciences at Rice University
Feedback on the discussion draft may be submitted to EarlyWarningBill@mail.house.gov until June 7, 2023.
A section-by-section available HERE.
Legislative text for discussion draft available HERE.