Senate Homeland Security Committee senator weighs in on Obama's bioterrorism announcement

The ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee has weighed in on President Barack Obama's announcement during his State of the Union Address of a new initiative to fight bioterrorism.

"As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I believe that the President's proposal to improve countermeasure and vaccine distribution in the event of a bio-weapon attack or a pandemic is a step in the right direction, but it falls far short of providing a comprehensive approach to biosecurity," Maine Senator Susan Collins said. "The Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act that Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and I introduced in September, and that was approved by the Homeland Security Committee in November, would establish a detailed plan for preventing and responding to a biological attack. With the President's backing, Congress should move swiftly to pass this legislation.

President Obama, in his State of the Union, noted that a plan must be made to ensure that the threat of bioterrorism is dealt with swiftly.

"We are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad," Obama said.

No further details of the initiative were offered, though the White House has issued a statement that a redesign of medical contingency plans would be made, allowing for the quick delivery of drugs in the event of a major biological attack.