Washington, D.C. - Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Global Health Security Act, bipartisan legislation offered by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH),Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. The legislation, which previously passed the House in September 2020, reaffirms the United States’ commitment to promoting global health security and is crucial to combatting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Global Health Security Act has sought to address two main issues – that U.S. global health security staffing and activities are largely reliant on an executive order and not specifically supported in law, and that the U.S. needs a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating the interagency response to a global health security emergency. These issues are particularly urgent in light of the threat posed by the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe.
“The Global Health Security Act ensures that the U.S. Government, and the world, are ready for new diseases like the coronavirus, before they become pandemics,” Chabot said. “For two years, it has been an honor to work alongside Rep. Connolly on the Global Health Security Act. Through this legislation, we identified the need for Congress to take leadership on global pandemic preparedness and to make certain that we as a nation are not caught off guard by an emerging infectious disease. I encourage my colleagues to stand with us to support these critical priorities by taking the necessary preventative steps today.”
“I want to thank my good friend, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, for being my partner on this legislation for more than two years,”Connolly said. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has underscored not only the need for a robust federal response to such a crisis, but also the importance of investing in global health security and pandemic preparedness around the world because diseases do not stop at borders. I welcome the fact that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has coalesced around a bipartisan solution that addresses deficiencies in the current pandemic response effort as well as demonstrates a commitment to a comprehensive and sustainable approach to global health security going forward.”
This Global Health Security Act would:
- Establish a Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council overseen by the National Security Advisor and whose membership includes the heads of agencies relevant to carrying out the Global Health Security Agenda.
- Establish a United States Coordinator for Global Health Security responsible for coordinating the interagency response to a global health security emergency.
- Require the President to develop a global health security strategy with specific and measurable goals, benchmarks, and performance metrics that will improve U.S. leadership on global pandemic preparedness.
- And establish an international Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness
To strengthen the bill, Mr. Chabot and Mr. Connolly worked with Chairman Meeks and Ranking Member McCaul to:
- Elevate the participants of the interagency review council in a manner commensurate with the scope of the work that council will need to carry out in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Enhance the scope of the global health security strategy with lessons learned from COVID-19.
- Create a multilateral Fund.
Republican and Democratic presidents alike have recognized the critical importance of global health security – from President Obama’s role in launching the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to President Trump’s National Security Strategy and National Biodefense Strategy. And this bill is consistent with lessons learned incorporated into the Biden Administration’s National Security Memorandum on United States Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness as well as President Biden’s Executive Order on Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government to Provide a Unified and Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security.
The Global Health Security Act codifies U.S. investments in the ability to prepare for and respond to public health threats and reduce or prevent their spread across borders.
The Global Health Security Act is endorsed by ChildFund International, Global Citizen, Global Health Council, International Medical Corps, IntraHealth International, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Nuclear Threat Initiative, PATH, the American Society of the Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the ONE Campaign, The Borgen Project, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and the American Society for Microbiology.
Chabot and Connolly penned an OpEd for The Hill on the need to pass this legislation in February 2020.