WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, cosponsored legislation requiring the President to designate a member of the National Security Council (NSC) to be the permanent pandemic prevention and response coordinator for the federal government. In 2018, the Head of Global Health Security on the NSC resigned, but was never replaced by President Trump. The position has been vacant for more than two years, which has hindered America’s efforts to address global health crises like the Coronavirus pandemic. Health experts have cited the disbanding of the NSC global health office as a critical factor in the Administration’s failure to address the Coronavirus pandemic swiftly and effectively.
“We are now in the middle of a full-scale Coronavirus pandemic, and we need strong coordination and leadership from the federal government to address this public health and economic emergency,” said Senator Peters. “As we fight this pandemic, we need credible public health and security experts who are working across government agencies to coordinate an aggressive response that will help save lives. It’s not too late to fill these key roles – including at the National Security Council – to help protect Americans now and in the future.”
The pandemic prevention and response coordinator would serve as a principal advisor to the President, and be responsible for coordinating all federal activities, policies, programs, and funding for pandemic preparedness and response. The coordinator would also be responsible for directing federal government resources to respond to needs, and leading outreach and coordination between federal agencies.
As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has pressed the Administration to provide a coordinated and aggressive response to global Coronavirus pandemic. In January, Peters and Chairman Ron Johnson urged Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to provide detailed information about the Administration’s pandemic response strategy. In February, Peters sent a letter to National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien urging him to appoint a global health security expert to the NSC to support pandemic preparedness and response amid concerns about the growing public health threat posed by Coronavirus.