Blue Dogs back bipartisan commission on pandemic

Blue Dogs back bipartisan commission on pandemic
© Greg Nash

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats, is throwing its support behind legislation that would create a bipartisan commission aimed at evaluating the United States’s readiness for pandemics. 

The group is backing the National Commission on COVID-19 Act, which was introduced by Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyFive takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill Overnight Energy & Environment — House passes giant climate, social policy bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoSunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist Lawmakers increasingly anxious about US efforts against Russian hackers GOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MORE (R-N.Y.), a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group. 

The Blue Dogs say the commission, which is modeled after the commission put in place following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, could help the country be better prepared for a future health crisis. 

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The 10-member commission would be made up of five Democrats and five Republicans. It would be tasked with examining and evaluating the U.S.’s preparation efforts, and then it would produce a report. 

The commission wouldn’t initiate its work until next year since the pandemic is ongoing, but would aim to issue the report on its findings by March 2022. 

The report would touch on a number of areas, including testing, treatments and vaccines, personal protective equipment for health workers and other first responders, and the preparedness and capacity of the U.S. health care system.

It would make recommendations on these and other areas in the hope of the avoiding errors made in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murphy, who helped lead the Department of Defense’s response to the avian flu outbreak during her time at the Pentagon, argued it's a necessary step to ensure the country is positioned as well as possible moving forward.

“During this public health and economic crisis, our top priority must be to provide immediate assistance to American families and businesses that are suffering,” she said in a statement. “But we also have a responsibility as leaders to begin laying the groundwork for an in-depth examination of our government’s response to COVID-19 in order to make recommendations that will better prepare our country for future pandemics.” 

Rep. Max RoseMax RoseMax Rose preparing for rematch with Nicole Malliotakis: report 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage MORE (D-N.Y.), who serves as the co-chairman of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, equated the coronavirus pandemic to war, echoing Murphy’s sentiments.

“We’re facing a war unlike anything we’ve ever seen in modern times, and we need to be marshaling every resource we have to help beat this virus and ensure a speedy recovery,” he said. “But we also cannot allow ourselves to ever be caught flat-footed or unprepared for either the next coronavirus wave, or any other pandemic. This legislation will help ensure that happens.”