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Romney, Murphy introduce bill to name global health coordinator, council amid coronavirus pandemic

Romney, Murphy introduce bill to name global health coordinator, council amid coronavirus pandemic
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of senators introduced legislation on Friday that would require President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE to appoint a global health coordinator and create an inter-agency council charged with preparing for pandemics. 
 
The bill, from Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial Lawmakers push back on late Trump terror designation for Yemen's Houthis MORE (D-Conn.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Utah), comes after the White House garnered criticism in the midst of the coronavirus for a 2018 decision to disband the National Security Council's global health unit, a decision former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonNSA places former GOP political operative in top lawyer position after Pentagon chief's reported order After insurrection: The national security implications McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender MORE characterized as a "streamlining." 
 
"We clearly weren't prepared in this case, and we cannot waste time in establishing new organizations in the federal government that can identify and prepare for health threats before they become domestic crises," Murphy said in a statement.

Romney added that the U.S. response to the coronavirus had "exposed some glaring gaps in our nation’s capacity to respond to a pandemic."

"By establishing a health security council and dedicating a new NSC position to developing global health strategies and coordinating responses, our bill will better prepare us to confront the spread of another infectious disease," he said. 
 
The bill would require Trump to create a Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council, which would meet at least four times a year and consist of officials from across the federal government, to provide recommendations on and help carry out global health policy.
 
Trump would also have to appoint a coordinator for global health security, who would be responsible for coordinating the administration's response to global health emergencies, and would brief Congress at least twice a year. 
 
Romney and Murphy are urging Trump to make the coordinator a person who has a "significant background and expertise in public health or emergency response management" and is a National Security Council employee. 
 
The bill also reaffirms that global health is a "core national security interest" for the United States, and that it should be U.S. policy to work with other countries to detect and prevent the spread of the disease and to prevent infectious disease outbreaks.