Sen. Mark Pryor announces plans for bill that would make attacks eligible for federal emergency assistance

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor has announced plans to file a bill that would make terrorist attacks, public health emergencies and man-made disasters eligible for federal emergency assistance.

Pryor announced that his new bill - The Emergency Response Act of 2009 - will place public health emergencies such as swine flu and terrorist attacks under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988.

The Stafford act, which currently only covers natural disasters such as storms, tornadoes and floods, triggers the Federal Emergency Management Agency while also allowing federal agencies to coordinate their efforts, give technical and advisory assistance and work in tandem with both local authorities and the private sector.

“This would make sure that a flu pandemic or some other type of pandemic would be considered a major disaster,” Pryor told the Arkansas News.

Pryor also announced plans for legislation he calls the Defense Against Infectious Diseases Act of 2009, which would required the federal government to update its national pandemic emergency plans periodically.

“Basically, the idea here is just preparation,” Pryor said at a new conference. “We need to make sure that our plans are up to date and they incorporate the latest technologies, latest medical developments, latest logistical challenges … so that whenever a pandemic comes, or an infectious disease outbreak comes, we are prepared and we’re not out of date and not working off of old information."