Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future
It's Thursday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. The Biden administration is considering plans to have some Afghan evacuees return to Afghanistan should they not pass a rigorous vetting process to come to the United States.We'll share details of what the administration is mulling over and where evacuees are now, plus the new watchdog report on the Defense Department's actions in the Jan. 6 insurrection.For The Hill, I'm Ellen Mitchell. Write to me with tips: [email protected]'s get to it.
© The Hill a woman and man in a research lab
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, yet Congress seems to have already put it in the rearview mirror. It is true that lawmakers took important steps over the past year to address the economic and health impacts of the virus here in the U.S. and abroad. But as cases and deaths continue to mount, it's time to do much more. Right now, there's a comprehensive piece of legislation wending its way through Congress that we believe is America's best shot at ending this pandemic and preventing future ones.
Sadly, the bill-which had been an all-too-rare bright spot of bipartisan agreement on the need to tackle a grave threat to our national and global security-is now hanging by a thread, because political infighting has eclipsed saving lives.
When will Biden declare America's 'One China, One Taiwan' policy?
Biden has said he told China's Xi the US adheres to the One China policy and Taiwan "makes its own decisions.”Told he had violated an unwritten rule to shun Taiwan, Trump responded, "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.
The International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act (S.2297) would do several necessary things. First, it would help close the dramatic inequity in access to COVID-19 vaccines by supporting the distribution of more U.S. vaccines that we don't need to partner countries that do. It calls for a detailed strategy on global vaccine distribution to accelerate access to nations most in need and to leverage other global health programs to bolster the international COVID-19 response. All of these measures will benefit Americans, because we will not be safe until the virus is defeated everywhere.
Second, the bill would address the systemic failures that left us vulnerable to COVID-19 in the first place. It requires the administration to develop and report to Congress on a comprehensive, annual plan to bolster global health security. It calls for the establishment of a Committee on Global Health Security and Pandemic and Biological Threats at the National Security Council to ensure policy coherence and continuity of effort across the agencies engaged in international and domestic prevention, preparedness, and response. The bill would also institute an annual intelligence threat assessment to facilitate early detection and prevention of potential pandemic pathogens. This is a critical element of the legislation, as experts agree that the next pandemic-whether naturally occurring, unintentional, or the result of a deliberate bioterrorist attack-is coming sooner than we think.
National Cyber Director Chris Inglis on stemming cyber threats
Host Michael Morell speaks with the nation's first national cyber director about the prevalence of ransomware and why Russia and China might tolerate criminal hackers on their soil. Inglis also talks about why deterrence in cyberspace is difficult, and how the U.S. government is engaging the private sector to bolster cyber defenses. This episode was produced in partnership with the Michael V.
Third, the bill will begin to reverse the world's dangerous underinvestment in pandemic preparedness by establishing a new Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness. Such a fund has been championed by President Biden, by the bipartisan CSIS Commission for America's Health Security, and by leading health and finance experts around the world. It is the tool we need to catalyze public and private investments in global health security and to incentivize partner countries to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks at their source, before they become deadly and costly pandemics. We believe the bill should authorize much more funding, but it's a start.
Pandemics should not be treated as partisan; the virus doesn't care which political party we support. This bill has strong bipartisan support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and many on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and it has been endorsed by the White House. A companion bill, the Global Health Security Act (H.R.391), has already passed the House twice this year, also with strong bipartisan support. Now it's in the hands of the Senate.
A plan to secure America's supply chains
Report offers ways we can secure supply chains and lessen reliance on adversarial manufacturing for critical supplies. The task force's mandate was three-fold: understand the Defense Department's processes for analyzing supply chain risk; determine how the Pentagon prioritizes and mitigates identified risk; and offer recommendations that Congress and other relevant agencies can implement to "help build resilience against future shocks to the supply chain" both in the short and long term.The report lays out six overarching recommendations as legislative proposals for inclusion in the NDAA.
Here's what needs to happen: the Senate must move to include S.2297 into a manager's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Doing that could be our only chance to move this critical bill forward. This is a matter of national security.
If the 117th U.S. Congress can't pass a pandemic bill in the second year of a health crisis that has already killed more than 5 million people-including more than 760,000 Americans-and has decimated lives and livelihoods worldwide, we have to question our moral values. At this point, ending this pandemic is as much a political decision as it is a question of capacity and resources. Congress: this is a national and global crisis. Act like it.
Ashley Arabasadi is the senior external affairs manager at Management Sciences for Health, a global nonprofit health advisory organization, and chair emeritus of the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium. Carolyn Reynolds is co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network, a global partnership of more than 150 organizations driving collective action to end COVID-19 and help prevent future pandemics. The authors are co-chairs of the Global Health Security Roundtable, hosted by the Global Health Council.
Omicron Is Moving Fast. Congress Is Moving Slow with Pandemic Prep. .
When the new Omicron strain of COVID-19 emerged last week, it hinted at the exact worst-case scenario that lawmakers and public-health advocates have been hoping to mitigate through action in Washington. For months, they have pushed Congress to approve a huge pot of funding—at least $30 billion—to help strengthen science and public-health infrastructure, in hopes of giving the United States a head start when another pandemic emerges. But thisFor months, they have pushed Congress to approve a huge pot of funding—at least $30 billion—to help strengthen science and public-health infrastructure, in hopes of giving the United States a head start when another pandemic emerges.