SALT LAKE CITY—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday announced that they will introduce legislation to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to global health security amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Health Security Act would establish a Global Health Security Interagency Review Council and the United States Coordinator for Global Health Security, appointed by the president from the National Security Council. These new entities would be responsible for implementing the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative launched by nearly 30 nations in 2014 to address global infectious disease threats. Other responsibilities would include: (1) providing policy recommendations on agenda-related goals, objectives, and implementation; (2) helping federal agencies with implementation; and (3) reviewing the progress and challenges in achieving U.S. commitments, including assistance to help other countries meet agenda targets. This legislation has also been introduced in the House by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
“Our experience with coronavirus has exposed some glaring gaps in our nation’s capacity to respond to a pandemic, and it is critical that we are better prepared to coordinate global responses and exert leadership to address future health threats,” Senator Romney said. “By establishing a health security council and dedicating a new NSC position to developing global health strategies and coordinating responses, our bill will better prepare us to confront the spread of another infectious disease.”
“The United States cannot prevent pandemics like COVID-19 from devastating our country if we don’t adequately prepare and plan. We clearly weren’t prepared in this case, and we cannot waste time in establishing new organizations in the federal government that can identify and prepare for health threats before they become domestic crises. That’s why we must establish a new directorate that’s empowered to press the preventative levers that can protect the nation, and that’s exactly what the Global Health Security Act seeks to do,” Senator Murphy said. “Our priority right now should be taking decisive action to contain COVID-19’s spread and rescuing our economy. But if we don’t also spend time fixing the gaps in our global pandemic response leadership, we’re at risk of going through this nightmare all over again. Pandemics don’t run on schedules, and so we need to start the job of reform now.”