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CLSA Wire

CLSA Applauds Passage of Legislation to Strengthen Our Nation’s Biodefense and Pandemic Preparedness

June 11, 2019
By Dani Mitchell

On June 4, 2019, after over a year of advocacy by CLSA and allied stakeholders, Congress finally completed its work to pass S. 1379, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAHPAI) Act of 2019. The bill is now at President Trump’s desk for his signature. The PAHPAI Act is key to strengthening our country’s national preparedness and response efforts for public health emergencies and accelerating medical countermeasure research and development.  CLSA particularly commends House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Silicon Valley) and Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-Ind.), and Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), for their long-standing efforts to shepherd this legislation across the finish line.

First enacted in 2006, and renewed in 2013, PAHPA established new federal entities (e.g. Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)) with the authority to oversee preparedness efforts. It also authorized funding for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) priorities – like Project BioShield – to combat threats such as emerging infectious diseases and pandemic influenza. PAHPA also authorized funds for advanced R&D of medical countermeasures through BARDA. Despite the critical infrastructure supported through this bill, and strong bipartisan support for its programs, Congress did not enact a reauthorization in 2018 (notably, the House passed a reauthorization bill, but the Senate did not), and many of PAHPA’s authorities expired at the end of the year, revealing remarkable holes in our national preparedness enterprise. CLSA consistently called for a renewal of PAHPA’s programs in the months leading up to the expiration deadline, and CLSA continued to advocate for the reauthorization of this critical law after the program expired.

At the beginning of the 116th Congress, thanks to the leadership of Reps. Eshoo and Brooks and Sens. Burr and Casey, and advocacy by a multi-sector stakeholder coalition (including CLSA), the House of Representatives swiftly passed PAHPA in January 2019. A modified version of the bill (which CLSA also supported), passed the Senate in May 2019. Ultimately, the House passed the Senate-updated version of PAHPA in June 2019, and is the version now awaiting the President’s signature to become law

On behalf of California’s life sciences sector, an industry with over 3,400 firms employing over 311,000 people, CLSA issued a press release applauding the House passage, and urging President Trump to swiftly sign this bill into law and bolster our nation’s biodefense preparedness and response capabilities.

Questions? Please contact Molly Fishman, CLSA’s Director of Federal Government Relations (mfishman@califesciences.org).