WASHINGTON, D.C.— On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the DHS Medical Countermeasures Act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa. This legislation would support and protect the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workforce and Department mission continuity by requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a medical countermeasures program to protect employees and working animals in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive attack; or naturally occurring disease outbreaks or pandemics.
“The brave men and women at DHS put their lives at risk every day; this has been especially true over the last year. My legislation would protect the health and safety of the DHS workforce and ensure successful continuity of operations,” said Miller-Meeks. “I am thrilled to see my DHS Medical Countermeasures Act pass the House today. Passing this legislation shows that the House cares about the DHS workforce and understands the vital role they play in keeping our country safe.”
Oversight of the countermeasures program would be under the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) who would be required to: maintain a stockpile of medical countermeasures, develop Department-wide standards for storage, security, placement, dispensing, and documentation of countermeasures; preposition countermeasures in strategic locations; ensure rapid deployment and dispensing of countermeasures; and support dispensing exercises.
The bill requires the establishment of a medical countermeasures working group comprised of representatives from relevant DHS components and offices to ensure medical countermeasures standards are maintained and guidance is consistent. Finally, the CMO would be required to develop an integrated logistics support plan for medical countermeasures that includes a methodology for determining types and quantities of countermeasures, inventory tracking, and a replenishment plan for existing stockpiles.
The Department of Homeland Security has over 240,000 employees.
Read the legislation below:117 Miller-Meeks DHS Medical Countermeasures Act