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Chairman Risch Touts Global Pandemic Solutions Bill on Senate Floor

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate floor this week to discuss his Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act (GHSDA), legislation to better detect, deter, and contain infectious disease outbreaks overseas before they become global pandemics.

“We want to talk about – what do we do when this happens in the future?” said Risch. “How can we create [a capacity] that just like a fire department, when the bell rings they pull their boots on, they slide down the pole, they get on the truck, and they go put out the fire?”

“I invite you and commit to you that we will work with you as we develop this new legislation, and as we go through the hearings,” Risch continued. “It is intended in the best spirit to help us all move forward to get to a piece of a very significant legislation that will hopefully take us forward like PEPFAR did, and like some of those other monumental pieces of legislation, that can address this incredibly difficult situation, and hurtful situation, not only for America, but for the world.”

GHSDA was introduced on May 21 and is cosponsored by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

To date, GHSDA has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Global Citizen, the Global Health Council (GHC), the GHC Global Health Security Roundtable, the Global Health Technologies Coalition, Global Water 2020, Management Sciences for Health, the ONE Campaign, and PATH.

Key provisions of the senators’ legislation include:

Enhancing strategic planning:

  • Requires the president to advance a comprehensive Global Health Security Strategy with clear goals, objectives, and lines of responsibility to better guide U.S. investments in global health security, eliminate duplication and waste, and enable partner countries to close capacity gaps.

Strengthening interagency coordination and diplomatic engagement:

  • Establishes a coordinator for global health security and diplomacy at the Department of State, supported by a deputy at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to manage program coordination, lead diplomatic efforts, and ensure the efficient and effective use of U.S. foreign assistance for global health security.
  • Encourages the president to appoint a senior director for global health security to the National Security Council, to coordinate the interagency process to ensure continuity of effort across the agencies engaged in international and domestic preparedness and response.

Promoting transparency, accountability, and long-term results:

  • Prioritizes resources for partner countries with demonstrated need and commitment to transparency and results.

Strengthening USAID’s emergency response capacity:

  • Authorizes USAID’s disaster surge capacity and establishes the agency as the program lead on emergency humanitarian response and efforts to address second order development impacts.

Joining global efforts to find vaccines for epidemic diseases:

  • Authorizes U.S. participation in and funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, enabling the U.S. to join more than a dozen countries and private foundations around the world in a joint effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine and develop new vaccines to prevent and contain other epidemics.

Creating opportunities for innovation and burden-sharing:

  • Authorizes U.S. participation in innovative partnerships and financing mechanisms, including through the establishment of Trust Fund for Global Health Security, to catalyze public and private investments in global health security, infectious disease control, and pandemic preparedness and response.

Full text of this legislation can be found here.

Remarks have been lightly edited for clarification. To download the video file of Senator Risch’s full remarks, click here.