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Connolly-Chabot Global Health Security Act Passes Committee

Today, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed H.R. 2166, the Global Health Security Act, introduced by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH). The legislation, which passed the committee unanimously, 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 seeks 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 threat posed by the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe.

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. 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. In particular, this bill bolsters U.S. commitments under the Global Health Security Agenda, which is a multilateral initiative to build countries’ capacity to manage infectious disease threats and elevate heath security as a global priority.

“As the coronavirus outbreak has showed us, diseases do not respect borders, and global health crises have immense security, economic, and humanitarian consequences,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly. “Unfortunately, almost 70% of the world’s nations are underprepared to manage or control outbreaks. By recognizing the critical role of U.S. leadership in international health security, enshrining U.S. global health security policy in statute, and ensuring that there is a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating these efforts in a strategic way, our legislation makes sure the United States is never caught off guard by future public health crises.”

“The Global Health Security Act provides a critical bipartisan endorsement to prioritize the U.S. Government’s response to epidemics like the coronavirus,” said Rep. Steve Chabot. “As the coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, we need to take this opportunity to recommit to leadership on health security and prepare ourselves for the next pandemic. Protecting our nation’s health must be seen as a national security priority.”

The Global Health Security Act is endorsed by ChildFund International, 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 Borgen Project, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and the American Society for Microbiology.

Text of the legislation is available here.

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