Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has introduced two pieces of legislation that would improve the way the US prepares for pandemics.
The Two Bills Would Treat Pandemics Like National Security Threats
Rep. Swalwell’s office detailed the legislation in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA:
TheNational Security Council Modernization Act of 2021would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services a seat on the National Security Council (NSC), while also strengthening the council against the possibility of presidential politicization. TheBiosecurity Information Optimization for Defense (BIO Defense) Act of 2021would strengthen the National Biodefense Strategy (NBS) so we can better prepare and respond as well as combat health misinformation.
TheBIO Defense Actwould improve the NBS, a bipartisan plan enacted in 2016 as part of theNational Defense Authorization Act,by formalizing a National Biodefense Directorate including the Vice President and department secretaries. This entity would be required to meet regularly, hire staff, and establish uniform data collection methods so it can continually update the NBS to address the national security risks posed by pandemics.
Importantly, the bill would require the Directorate to develop a National Strategy Combating Biodefense Misinformation to make sure our federal government is prepared to get the best-available public health information to the American people quickly and effectively in times of crisis. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday declared pandemic misinformation “an urgent threat to public health.”
Eric Swalwell’s Legislation Would Protect American Lives
Rep. Swalwell said, “The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that public health misinformation – particularly on social media – can jeopardize America’s response to biological threats, unnecessarily putting people in harm’s way. Knowledge is power during a pandemic, and government must actively promote fact-based information – while actively debunking and preventing the spread of lies, be they deliberate or panic-induced – to save lives.”
While we fight to overcome the current pandemic, it is important that policymakers learn the lessons of COVID-19 and make sure that the United States is better prepared for the next pandemic.
The Biden administration is combatting the pandemic and vaccine misinformation being spread by Republicans, conservative media, conspiracy theorists, and others on social media.
If Swalwell’s legislation became law, there is no doubt that it would save lives. Pandemics are a national security issue, and America needs to be better prepared.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association