House considers Homeland Security Act amendment

The U.S. House of Representatives will consider on an amendment on Feb. 3 to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 meant to enhance U.S. medical preparedness, medical surge capacity and mass prophylaxis capabilities.

The Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act, H.R. 1791, was one of two pieces of legislation listed as considered under suspension of the rules on the weekly schedule for U.S. Rep Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The consideration of bills under suspension allows the House to quickly pass measures that are not thought of as controversial.

The House will meet at noon and 2 p.m. on Feb. 3 to consider H.R. 1791. The bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to codify authority under existing grant guidance to authorize use of State Homeland Security Grant Program and Urban Area Security Initiative funding.

The amendment would develop and maintain an initial pharmaceutical stockpile sufficient to protect first responders, their families, immediate victims and vulnerable populations from a biological or chemical event. The stockpile would include relevant medical kits and diagnostics.

The State Homeland Security Program supports the implementation of Homeland Security strategies to address planning, organization, equipment, training and exercises needed to prevent, mitigate, respond to, protect against and recover from terrorist acts and other catastrophic events. The total funding available for the program in Fiscal Year 2013 was $354,644,123.

The Urban Areas Security Initiative addresses the planning, organization, equipment, training and exercises related to terrorism in high-threat, high-density urban areas. The funding available for the initiative in FY 2013 was $558,745,566.

Both SHSP and UASI are programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Homeland Security Grant Program.