House committee passes WMD legislation

The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security recently passed multiple bills aimed at improving the federal government's ability to prepare for and prevent an attack using weapons of mass destruction.

In a unanimous vote, the committee passed the "WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011," which was introduced by the Committee's chairman Representative Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.).

"This legislation implements many of the recommendations of the WMD Commission, which in 2008 delivered the dire warning that terrorists are likely to deploy a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," King said.

The new legislation will establish a special assistant to the president for biodefense, require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a national biosurveillance strategy and develop a national biodefense plan and coordinated budget that will address capability gaps and spending inefficiencies.

"Today's committee passage of this vital legislation is an important step in further securing our homeland against such an attack here," King said. "I am pleased to have joined Rep. Bill Pascrell, who has been an effective proponent in moving WMD legislation through Congress."

In addition, the legislation calls for the vaccination of first responders against possible bioweapon agents and authorizes the Securing the Cities program to allow for the interdiction of a radiological device in high-risk cities.