Senate Bioterrorism Bill Stalled in Negotiations
Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) have "hit a snag" in negotiations on a proposed bioterrorism bill that had been expected to see "floor action" this week, CongressDaily/AM reports. A spokesperson for Frist said that one of the issues up for debate is funding: Kennedy wants as much as $8 billion to $10 billion included in the bill, while Frist proposes a figure "in the $2 billion to $3 billion range." She added, "We must be ready to respond to the immediate threat by increasing the capacity of the public health system. But the system can't handle [the amount of money proposed by Kennedy] at once." Also at issue are how to protect drug makers from liability associated with anti-bioterrorism treatments and whether to expand the FDA to "address safety issues" for imported foods. CongressDaily/AM reports that Frist and Kennedy do agree on "several aspects of the measure," including increased support for state and local "preparedness" and for vaccine development. Democrats in the House are expected to introduce their own bioterrorism bill today, created by a task force led by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)(Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 10/25).