FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Aaron
COMMISSION APPLAUDS PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR PUTTING
VP PENCE IN CHARGE OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
Commission Made This Very Recommendation in 2015 National Blueprint for Biodefense
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 26, 2020) – Dr. Asha M. George, Executive Director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, tonight applauded President Trump for placing Vice President Pence atop the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. Dr. George notes that this was the Commission’s #1 recommendation in its 2015 National Blueprint for Biodefense.
“We applaud President Trump for putting Vice President Pence in charge of the U.S. government’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. George. “It should have happened sooner, but we know, it often takes a crisis to get things done in Washington.
“We said in 2015 that the Nation lacks a single, centralized, high-level leader to control, prioritize, coordinate, and hold Departments and agencies accountable for national biodefense. We recommended that the President institutionalize leadership of biodefense at the White House, with the Vice President in charge. The Vice President can direct and coordinate agencies, budgets, and strategies across the government in a way that no other position can.
“The fact remains that our federal government does not afford the biological threat the same level of attention as it does other threats. There is no centralized leader for biodefense. There is only a nascent national strategy for biodefense, and there is no all-inclusive dedicated budget for biodefense, which became quite apparent this week with the sudden request for billions in emergency appropriations. While it appears Vice President Pence’s oversight responsibilities are limited to the coronavirus, we hope that President Trump ultimately puts the Vice President in charge of the entire biodefense enterprise, to ensure that our Nation can defend itself against naturally occurring diseases like novel coronavirus, accidental releases, biological terrorism, and biological warfare.”
About the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense
The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Commission’s 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. Subsequent Commission publications have addressed critical needs for agrodefense, biodefense budgeting, and the need for state, local, tribal and territorial support. In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, another top recommendation from the Blueprint. The Commission continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Commission, and are joined by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco. Hudson Institute is the Commission’s fiscal sponsor.