WMD protection bill approved by House Homeland Security Committee

A bill that would address the threat of domestic attacks through weapons of mass destruction, including bioweapons, was unanimously approved Wednesday by the House Homeland Security Committee.

While deliberating the bill, legislators noted vulnerabilities cited by both the 9-11 Commission report and a Commission on WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, according to a NorthJersey.com report.

Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., who authored the bill along with Rep. Peter King, argued that too much time has already passed with no action.

“Nothing was done about it,” Pascrell told NorthJersey.com, referring to the recommendations made in the 9-11 Commission and WMD reports. “We're good at commissions and committees. When it comes to actions, that's another story.”

The proposed legislation would provide funding for labs to research chemical agents and to stockpile vaccines. It also calls for background checks on workers who will handle dangerous materials.

“We need to do everything we can to prevent such an attack, to deter the attack, to uncover the attack, to be able to withstand the attack, [and] to recover from the attack. And I think these things are all laid out in the bill,” Pascrell told NorthJersey.com.

The proposed legislation also aims to cut through turf wars among federal agencies and local governments. The proposed legislation would attempt to clarify such matters as jurisdiction and who has control during times of attack.

“There needs to be training, and there needs to be decisions made," Pascrell told NorthJersey.com. “We need to understand, God forbid, if we're ever attacked, what are we going to do? Are we going to be running to the hills? Who's not going to be running for the hills? Who's going to be out there in a biological attack? We may not even smell it, we may not even see it. We need to be prepared.”