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Monday, September 26th, 2022

Blue Ribbon Study Panel praises congressional action to unify biodefense budget

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Members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense praised the passage of legislation that incorporates its recommendation to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a detailed analysis of the Trump Administration’s budget for biodefense as part of the annual budget process.

In visits to lawmakers in Congress last week, the bipartisan study panel lauded the inclusion of language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 as a step forward in unifying the United States’ budget for biodefense.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act requires OMB to conduct a crosscutting analysis of all federal funding for biodefense programs. That analysis should detail all funds requested for mandatory and discretionary biodefense activities by agency.

“This crosscut analysis is absolutely critical,” said former Sen. Joe Lieberman, co-chair of the panel. “Both Congress and the Administration need to understand where the federal government is investing in biodefense and where we may have gaps and redundancies.”

Formed in 2014 to assess the state of U.S. biodefense efforts and to issue recommendations for improvement, the panel said in a written statement that such an analysis would help to determine capability and programmatic limitations in the nation’s biodefense strategy. 

“ … After the establishment of the National Biodefense Strategy, this is a logical next step towards ensuring our national public health security,” Lieberman said.

In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the panel’s Blueprint for Biodefense, released in 2015.

“The crosscut analysis – part of the fourth recommendation in our Blueprint for Biodefense – will allow the Administration and Congress to make smarter decisions and necessary management and funding adjustments,” former Gov. Tom Ridge, co-chair of the panel, added.