Congress approves $2.5 billion for bioterrorism preparedness

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Dec 21, 2001 (CIDRAP News) – In a flurry of pre-adjournment activity yesterday, Congress appropriated about $2.5 billion for bioterrorism preparedness, including $1 billion for state and local efforts, according to an aide to Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

The appropriation was part of a homeland defense package that was included in an overall spending bill for the Department of Defense. Margaret Camp, a press aide to Frist, said the funds for state and local preparedness include $865 million for health departments and $135 million for hospitals. Other major pieces, she said, include $593 million for the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, $512 million for smallpox vaccine, $155 million for the National Institutes of Health, and $100 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The $2.5 appropriation falls between amounts that the House and Senate had earlier approved separately. The Senate on Dec 7 approved a defense appropriations bill amendment that would have provided $3.1 billion for countering bioterrorism; the House on Nov 28 approved a $20 billion spending package that included about $2 billion for bioterrorism.

In a separate action, the Senate yesterday evening passed a $3.2 billion anti-bioterrorism authorization bill sponsored by Frist and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, according to spokespersons for the two senators. That bill will have to be reconciled next year with a $2.9 billion authorization bill that was passed by the House Dec 12. Camp said the Frist-Kennedy bill drew unanimous support.

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