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Pascrell, King Introduce WMD Bill

Legislation Endorsed by WMD Commissioners

Thursday, June 10, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced H.R. 5498, The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010. This legislation will make progress toward implementing the recommendations of the WMD Commission and will improve U.S. efforts to prevent, deter, detect, and respond to an attack by a weapon of mass destruction.

Calling the legislation a “comprehensive approach to improving America’s biodefense capabilities,” WMD Commission Chair, Sen. Bob Graham, and Vice-Chair, Sen. Jim Talent, have both endorsed the bill. In a joint statement, Sens. Graham and Talent said: “Moving this bill quickly through the legislative process, and to the President’s desk for signature, will be an incredibly important step in improving America’s biodefense posture. This legislation reaches across many committees and agency jurisdictions. Our years of experience in Congress tell us this bill will require vigorous support from Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle. We pledge our full support, and will work closely with Congressional leadership, Members, and staff during the legislative process.”

Rep. Pascrell said: “The WMD Commission has told us that almost nine years after 9/11 we still do not have a comprehensive national strategy to counter the grave threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to our nation. I am very proud we have the endorsement of the Commission for our bipartisan legislation. The WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010 we introduced today is in fact an extensive blueprint to address the greatest catastrophic risk we face and we are dedicated to getting it implemented.”

Rep. King said: “The WMD Commission has offered the sobering finding that a WMD attack is ‘likely’ to occur somewhere in the world by 2013, something that Senators Graham and Talent reiterated in April when they testified before the Homeland Security Committee. Public reports from former intelligence community officials indicate that al-Qaeda is seeking to acquire or develop WMDs, which they surely would seek to use against the U.S. This legislation will enhance America’s capabilities to protect American lives from such a WMD attack. I am happy to have partnered with Bill Pascrell on this legislation.”

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security added: “The Committee is taking a critical step forward in introducing this very important piece of legislation. There is no time to waste, as we speak America’s adversaries are seeking weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons, to harm us. This bill addresses the full-range of homeland security considerations associated with the WMD threat – it not only authorizes programs to enhance our nation’s prevention, deterrence, and preparedness capabilities but also bolsters our diction, attribution, response and recovery capabilities.”

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology, said: “This is a monumental day for the people of New York and Americans all across this country, who have waited far too long for a comprehensive approach to protecting our nation against weapons of mass destruction. The bill addresses every stage of the threat – from pre-event prevention and deterrence through to post-event recovery, and will strengthen our capabilities to address biological attacks. I want to thank former Senators Jim Talent and Bob Graham for their work on the WMD Commission. Their service and dedication to protecting each and every American from the threat of terrorism is truly commendable.”

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology, said: “The safety of the American people is paramount and there is no greater threat than an extremist with a weapon of mass destruction. I, along with all my colleagues on the Homeland Security Committee, will do everything I can to make sure these weapons do not fall into the hands of people whose only wish is to destroy, maim and disrupt our way of life.”

In December 2008, the WMD Commission, headed by Sen. Bob Graham and Sen. Jim Talent, issued its original report. In January 2010, the Commission issued a ‘report card’ that gave mixed grades for U.S. efforts, including three “Fs” for U.S. failure to effectively prepare for a biological attack, failure to implement retention and recruiting programs for the next generation of national security experts, and failure on the part of Congress to reform Congressional oversight to better address intelligence, homeland security and other national security missions.

Next Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology will hold a hearing to discuss this legislation.

Bill Summary

Section by Section Outline

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WMD Commission Comments