Almost two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to safeguard our nation and prepare for all-natural disasters and biological, chemical, and radiological threats. Considering the fact that then, the provisions enacted in that act and subsequent reauthorizations have confirmed crucial to strengthening our public wellness infrastructure and safeguarding our national wellness safety.

With PAHPA reauthorized this year, we welcome the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Well being, Education, Labor and Pensions and Residence Power and Commerce committees to start the crucial function of making sure our nation’s preparedness applications are correctly funded, maintained and enhanced.

The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We have knowledgeable these attacks intimately, as a single of the members targeted for anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesperson on anthrax and bioterrorism who was charged with alleviating public worry (Frist).

We worked collectively to create a legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Well being Safety and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Workplace of Public Well being Emergency Preparedness, which was accountable for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public wellness threats. Now, these efforts are led by the Directorate for Strategic Readiness and Response of the Ministry of Well being and Human Solutions.

4 years later, immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed PAHPA to strengthen our emergency preparedness and response capabilities by authorizing numerous of the federal government’s biodefense and pandemic preparedness applications, like the agency now recognized as the Strategic Readiness Administration and response, National Well being Safety Method and the Sophisticated Biomedical Investigation and Improvement Administration. With bipartisan reauthorizations in 2013 and 2019, PAHPA established new applications to enhance our nation’s emergency response, like Project BioShield, and enacted measures to strengthen the Meals and Drug Administration’s part in establishing healthcare countermeasures.

Considering the fact that the establishment of PAHPA and subsequent reauthorizations, each Republicans and Democrats have shown overwhelming assistance for strengthening our nation’s preparedness for a complete variety of all-natural or man-produced threats and hazards. Guarding the wellness and nicely-becoming of our nation must not be a partisan problem, and we contact on our leaders to continue that bipartisan tradition.

This year will be the initially time Congress will be tasked with reauthorizing PAHPA following the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should take the lessons we’ve discovered more than the previous 3 years to enhance our nation’s preparedness capabilities ahead of the subsequent pandemic—because that is not the query ifbut when, will occur subsequent. We urge Congress not to be distracted by previous celebration struggles or touchy political difficulties. Our nation’s preparedness is as well critical to compromise, and these crucial applications should not be permitted to lapse.

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Congress has taken substantial actions to enhance our public wellness preparedness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, like passing the bipartisan Pandemic PREVENTION Act in final year’s omnibus appropriations package. Congress has shown, time and time once more, that it recognizes the basic significance of strengthening our defenses against disasters and public wellness crises. Even so, a great deal remains to be accomplished.

We urge Congress to use this momentum to strengthen our national safety and enhance our public wellness preparedness by reauthorizing PAHPA just before it expires on October 1.

Former Senator Tom Daschle (DS.D.), co-founder of the bipartisan Policy Center, served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and as Senate Majority Leader from 2001 to 2003. Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), BPC Senior Fellow -a, is a physician. He served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and as Senate Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007.

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