U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Monrovia) announced on Monday his bill H.R 6174 “DHS Biodetection Improvement Act” passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously.

Strong says this legislation will bolster U.S. biodefense by ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is positioned to combat bioterrorism threats.

In a statement to 1819 News, Strong said, "As a first responder myself, I know the difference that early detection makes. This legislation will ensure DHS is fully leveraging every tool and resource to accomplish the goal of protecting Americans against bioterrorism. As our adversaries watch on, we cannot afford to fall behind, America’s security depends on it.”

In the wake of the 2001 attacks, DHS established a program called BioWatch, which monitors, collects and tests air samples for biological agents likely to be used in a terrorist attack. However, breakdowns in accurate and timely information sharing and lagging technological upgrades show that DHS has fallen behind. Strong believes this bill will be able to better protect Americans from BioTerrorism.

Specifically, the legislation requires DHS to: 1. Utilize the Department of Energy's National Labs to develop new technologies related to biodefense; 2. Develop a plan to acquire existing technologies to meet DHS’ biodetection mission needs; 3. Conduct external evaluations to identify gaps and potential failure points; and 4. Submit a report to Congress outlining a defined plan for the future of biodetection.

Strong added, “I am glad that my colleagues recognized the importance of this legislation and passed it unanimously. Threats from America’s enemies have continued to evolve and become more complex. The anthrax attacks of 2001 opened our eyes to a new threat landscape that included acts of bioterrorism.”

Watch Strong's remarks on the bill here:

The bill with bipartisan support will now head to the U.S. Senate, where it must pass before being signed into law by the president.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email Bradley.cox@1819news.com or on Twitter @BradleyCoxAL

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