The Congressional Biodefense Caucus launched on Capitol Hill with more than two dozen members in a bid to strengthen Congress’ focus on protecting the nation from a biological attack.
“This is an issue that too many of us take for granted,” caucus co-chairwoman Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) told a reception on Feb. 26. “There is an assumption that we have stockpiles of vaccines readily available to combat the next anthrax attack. This is not an issue of fear but is one that requires knowledge, and we can work to educate members and the public on the importance of these issues.”
Co-chairwoman Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) noted that “when we took this position, we agreed to protect our country’s national security.”
“Biodefense is one way we can do this, but we must work together,” she added.
The mission statement of the caucus states that its purpose is to “serve as an informal group for Members dedicated to strengthening our nation’s biodefense enterprise and national security against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats and pandemic outbreaks.”
“This Caucus will serve as a platform to educate Members and staff on the very real threats our nation faces from a CBRN attack or pandemic outbreak and identifying the existing gaps in our preparedness and response capabilities. Through regular briefings, the Caucus will focus on the important role that the federal and local government, our private sector partners, and the public all have in ensuring we as a nation are equipped for an emergency and identify the existing gaps in our preparedness and response capabilities.”
The Alliance for Biosecurity said in a statement that they were encouraged by “the exceptional early engagement” from lawmakers, and were thankful for their “dedication to enhancing America’s national security by becoming active members of this caucus.”
“We look forward to continuing to develop the important public-private partnerships that ensure medical countermeasures are available to protect public health,” the Alliance said.