Sunday, May 5, 2013

HR 1791 Introduced – Emergency Response Grants

A little over a week ago I noted that Rep. Bilirakis (R,FL) introduced HR 1791, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act. The bill would amend 6 USC 609 by authorizing the grant monies under the Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program to be used for enhancing medical preparedness, medical surge capacity, and mass prophylaxis capabilities to respond to chemical or biological incidents.

The new 6 USC §609(a)(11) would specifically allow for these grants to be used for “the development and maintenance of an initial pharmaceutical stockpile, including medical kits, and diagnostics sufficient to protect first responders, their families, and immediate victims from a chemical or biological event”. While these grant programs both specify that they are to be used for counterterrorism purposes, once these pharmaceutical stockpiles are in place they could clearly be used in response to an accidental chemical release in the area.

This is a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ bill that should face no specific opposition, especially since there are no additional grant funds being authorized. If it makes it to the floor of the House (and Senate) it will almost certainly pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. It is not clear at this point, however, if there is enough pressure available to move this to the floor. As always with this type of legislation, it would not be surprising to see this rolled into the FEMA or DHS authorization bills.

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