Romney, Casey Pandemic Preparedness Bill Passed Out of Senate Health Committee

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Bob Casey (D-PA), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded the passage of their pandemic preparedness and response bill out of Committee. With lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act (PAHPA) strengthens the United States’ ability to address future public health crises by investing in public health programs, promoting public health data and information sharing, strengthening lab security, and pursuing new research. The bill passed the Committee by a 17-3 vote.

“It would be a mistake to not apply the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic in preparing for potential future pandemics and other hazardous events. For several months, my colleagues and I have been working with public health officials, health care providers, and other stakeholders on policies Congress should consider during the reauthorization of the pandemic and all hazards preparedness package,” said Senator Romney. “Today’s markup is the cumulation of months of bipartisan negotiation toward that effort. This legislation includes critical updates to the Strategic National Stockpile, Administration for Preparedness and Response Strategy, and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Importantly, it also includes provisions which will strengthen our ability to respond to health emergencies and fill gaps in our public health data. I’m proud this package passed out of committee with strong bipartisan support and look forward to its consideration on the Senate floor.”

“COVID-19 showed us that we were ill-equipped handle a global pandemic of that scale,” said Senator Casey. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Romney to author a bill that gives our Nation the tools we need to stop something like that from ever happening again. Three years after COVID, we cannot forget the devastation and fear we all felt, and we must be prepared to fight back against the next public health crises.”

PAHPA strengthens the nation’s biosecurity and biosafety, addresses the needs of at-risk populations, strengthens public health communications, coordinates research relating to long COVID, supports innovative technologies like wastewater surveillance, and reauthorizes the medical countermeasure priority review voucher program.

Specifically, the Pandemics and All-hazards Preparedness and Response Act includes provisions to:

  • Reauthorize core public health preparedness programs including the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreements, the Hospital Preparedness Program, the Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity cooperative agreements, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency and the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • Expand the representation of seniors and people with disabilities who advise the federal government on emergency preparedness.
  • Require states to create crisis standards of care that prohibit discrimination of older adults and people with disabilities during disasters and emergencies. 
  • Promote better public health data-sharing during an outbreak.
  • Establish a no-fault reporting system for laboratories to create a safety feedback loop.
  • Support research and surge capacity during a pandemic.
  • Support ongoing wastewater surveillance efforts.
  • Examine the potential vulnerabilities to health security posed by artificial intelligence.
  • Ensure that manufacturers communicate circumstances that may result in drug shortages and provide information to FDA in order to avoid potential shortages.
  • Reauthorize the medical countermeasure priority review program.