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Blue Dogs Back Bipartisan Bill to Establish Pandemic Response Commission

April 28, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats endorsed a bipartisan bill on Monday that would establish a commission to assess the nation’s readiness to deal with future pandemics.

H.R. 6429, the National Commission on COVID-19 Act, was introduced in the House by Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., the Blue Dogs’ co-chair for Administration.

Her co-sponsor is Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., co-chair of the Republican Tuesday Group.

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 Murphy, who helped lead the Defense Department’s response to the avian flu outbreak during President George W. Bush’s administration.

“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,” she said.

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, said while it’s important the nation marshal every resource to help beat the virus and ensure a speedy recovery, “we also cannot allow ourselves to ever be caught flat-footed or unprepared for either the next coronavirus wave, or any other pandemic,” he said.

Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., the other co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, agreed saying that as the nation begins to emerge from the current 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,” Horn said.

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