Blue Dogs Endorse Bipartisan Bill to Establish 9/11-Style Commission on U.S. Pandemic Preparedness and Response
WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to fiscal responsibility and national security, announced its endorsement of H.R. 6429, National Commission on COVID-19 Act, which would establish bipartisan commission to assess the United States’ preparation for and response to pandemics. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Administration, introduced the legislation in the House alongside Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Co-Chair of the Republican Tuesday Group. Rep. Murphy helped lead the Department of Defense’s response to the avian flu outbreak while working at the Pentagon during the President George W. Bush administration.
The bipartisan National Commission on COVID-19 Act is modeled on the 2002 law establishing the 9/11 Commission, which was enacted in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The 10 members of the COVID-19 Commission, split equally between Democrats and Republicans, would examine the country’s preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend concrete steps the U.S. should take to ensure a stronger, more effective government response to future pandemics. Because the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing, the Commission would not begin its work until early 2021 and would produce a report by March 2022.
“During this public health and economic crisis, our top priority must be to provide immediate assistance to American families and businesses that are suffering,” said Rep. Murphy. “But we also have a responsibility as leaders to begin laying the groundwork for an in-depth examination of our government’s response to COVID-19 in order to make recommendations that will better prepare our country for future pandemics. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to help us learn from this crisis and ensure the United States can be a global leader in pandemic preparedness and response.”
“We’re facing a war unlike anything we’ve ever seen in modern times, and we need to be marshalling every resource we have to help beat this virus and ensure a speedy recovery,” said Rep. Max Rose (NY-11), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “But we also cannot allow ourselves to ever be caught flat-footed or unprepared for either the next coronavirus wave, or any other pandemic. This legislation will help ensure that happens.”
“As we battle a global pandemic, it is critical that we stay focused on getting Americans the immediate health and economic relief they need,” said Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “But emerging from this crisis, we must have a bipartisan plan to ensure that our nation is not caught off-guard by another pandemic, unable to protect our communities. Our review of the COVID-19 response must be bipartisan, forward-looking, and equip our nation to respond to future threats. This legislation strengthens our national preparedness and national security, analyzing the COVID-19 response to better prepare our nation for what comes next.”
Under the bipartisan legislation, the COVID-19 Commission would:
- Examine how COVID-19 emerged and spread in the United States;
- Evaluate the United States’ preparedness for and response to the pandemic; and
- Issue a report providing Congress, the President, and the American people with a full accounting of what occurred and recommending concrete steps the U.S. public and private sector can take to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the harmful impact of future pandemics.
Like the members of the 9/11 Commission, the members of the COVID-19 Commission would be equally balanced between Democrats and Republicans, appointed by the President and congressional leaders of both chambers and parties. They would have deep experience and expertise in fields like public health, medicine, emergency management and response, and public administration.
The National Commission on COVID-19 Act would direct the Commission to analyze and make recommendations on topics like testing, treatments, and vaccines; personal protective equipment for health workers and other first responders; medical devices, equipment, drugs, and supply chains; social distancing practices, stay-at-home directives, school and business closures, and other mitigation measures ordered by government or adopted voluntarily; and the preparedness and capacity of the U.S. health care system, among other subjects.
Members of the Commission would be appointed in late January or early February 2021, would begin their work by March 2021, and would produce their final report by March 2022.