Our government failed to adequately prepare for, prevent, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has taken the lives of more than one million Americans and cost the American economy trillions of dollars. Yet, we are still not prepared for the next pandemic. We have an obligation to establish the critical infrastructure and policies that prevent future pandemics and save lives. For the sake of the future of our nation, we cannot afford inaction.
In Congress, I will:
- Fight for President Biden’s $81.7 billion mandatory funding request over five years for pandemic preparedness and prevention in the next appropriations bill. This includes $41 billion for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
- Fight for full and permanent funding of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), which works with industry partners to support the research and development of the next generation of vaccines and medical countermeasures, diagnostics to identify new viral threats, and the most advanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For nearly two decades, BARDA has been on the front lines of protecting the American people against deadly diseases and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. For example, due to years of preparedness strategy, BARDA has already helped support companies with the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and other medical countermeasures that will be deployed to respond to the current monkeypox outbreak. We cannot allow BARDA to be underfunded any longer. It is time to invest in BARDA so the agency can realize its full potential.
- Fight for major funding to improve ventilation, filtration, and sterilization in hospitals, schools, libraries, colleges, post offices, public transit, businesses, and other buildings. The American Rescue Plan made important investments that improved air quality and reduced COVID transmission, but much more must be done. This funding would create good jobs and strengthen our economy and health.
- Fight for the passage of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which would authorize $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds to construct, renovate, and modernize school infrastructure. According to a 2020 Government Accountability Office survey of school districts, more than forty percent of the districts needed to “update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in at least half of their schools, representing about 36,000 schools nationwide.” Better air quality in schools boosts student health, engagement, attendance, and achievement.
- Fight to establish oversight and accountability measures over labs engaged in dual-use research of concern.
- Fight to implement media literacy education in our schools, colleges, and other educational institutions to combat misinformation about health and science.
- Fight for funding to modernize and build resilient supply chains that would rapidly produce and deploy diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and PPE during a pandemic. As a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report explained, this involves establishing a strong domestic health manufacturing base, strengthened Strategic National Stockpile, and expanded health care supply chain visibility.
In Congress, I will fight for the essential investments that will prevent the next pandemic: $81.7 billion over five years in funding for pandemic preparedness and prevention, fully funding BARDA, building up our health infrastructure, modernizing schools and other institutions, and establishing robust supply chains. We must protect the health, well-being, and security of the American people and economy.