Democrats seek to pass bioterrorism bill by Christmas

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Democrats hope to pass a bill that would reauthorize a law related to bioterrorism and disease outbreak preparedness through 2011.

The legislation (S 3678) would make the Department of Health and Human Services the lead agency in public health and medical response to bioterrorist attacks and disease outbreaks. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is sponsoring the bill.

Other objectives include: making the National Disaster Medical System part of HHS, and requiring the HHS secretary to implement a national preparedness and response strategy. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he hopes to pass such a bill during the current lame-duck session of Congress, which lasts until the holidays.