Congress proposes WMD biodefense bill

Congress will soon debate H.R. 2356, the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011, before four different House committees before the bill heads to the Senate for further debate.

The House committees on Select Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure ,and Energy and Commerce will debate the bill four years after a commission mandated by Congress defined bioterrorism as a grave national threat. The bill calls for the development of a national biodefense plan with a coordinated budget across government agencies and departments, Homeland Security Newswire reports.

The bill would also require the appointment of a special assistant to the president for biodefense, a position that has been divided among several assistants in the Obama administration. Critics to the current way the government deals with bioterrorism cite the 108 congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee different parts of the Department of Homeland Security.

"Congress has organized itself in a way to make it impossible for anything related to terrorism to be enacted," former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), said, according to the Huffington Post. "The greatest WMD threat facing the United States is not nuclear or chemical or radiological. It's biological. As our most significant threat, it deserves to have a permanent, accountable, sufficient visibility so that this issue can be kept before the public."