Yesterday Senators Lieberman and Collins, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009.
Senator Lieberman explained, “Our bill would strengthen security at labs using the most dangerous pathogens, improve our capabilities to assess the threat of terrorists acquiring WMD, ensure that citizens get critical safety information, and develop a means for quickly delivering life-saving drugs to areas that have been attacked.”
According to a joint statement available on the Senate Committee’s website, the legislation would also,
- Require HHS to designate the most dangerous pathogens which have significant potential to be used effectively in a biological attack.
- Require DHS to set new security standards for labs using the most dangerous pathogens, including risk assessments, personnel reliability programs, and staff training.
- Require a national strategy for dispensing antibiotics and other medicines to the public and expand a pilot program for using the Postal Service to dispense them.
- Require communications plans to convey instructions to the public – including whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place – in the critical moments after an attack.
- Support a National Bioforensics Analysis Center to identify the perpetrator of a WMD attack rapidly.
- Provide personal medical kits to emergency responders in order to enable them to respond quickly to a WMD attack without jeopardizing their own safety.
- Require DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide better terrorism threat and risk assessments to the public.
- Promote citizen and community preparedness for WMD attacks, including by authorizing grants to States.
The bill is not yet available via the Thomas website. The Senate Committee’s website provides a pdf of the proposed legislation.