Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman John Katko (24th District of New York)
October 26, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation continues to respond to rising COVID-19 cases across the country, U.S. Rep. John Katko (R, NY-24) this week introduced legislation to restore a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program to assess potential implications of a nationwide pandemic on critical infrastructure. Katko introduced the bipartisan Analyzing Disaster Vulnerabilities and Applicable National Capabilities for Emergencies (ADVANCE) Act alongside U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D, VA-07).
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Katko has led efforts to improve our nation’s pandemic response capabilities. The ADVANCE Act will reinstate a critical pandemic modeling program, operated by the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC). Through this program NISAC conducted routine hazard exercises to ensure DHS was prepared to respond to natural disasters and public health crises that may threaten our nation’s critical infrastructure. The program was halted in 2017 leaving a gap in our preparedness and response capabilities when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in our preparedness for a pandemic of this size and we’ve seen our nation suffer as a result,” said Rep. Katko. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation which will reinstate an important program within the Department of Homeland Security that aims to predict and prepare our government for natural disasters and public health crises. The ADVANCE Act will better protect our country, ensuring we are never left unprepared again in the face of a natural disaster or public health crisis.”
The bipartisan ADVANCE Act would enhance the government’s ability to model and simulate the impact of natural disasters and health crises on critical infrastructure by requiring NISAC to conduct hazard exercises twice a year. The exercises would enhance hands-on training while providing insight into how government agencies can better predict and prepare for crises, including how to mitigate their interconnected impact on critical infrastructure, such as the food supply, healthcare systems, and national defense. The bill would also require NISAC to report annually to Congress on the impact of natural disasters and public health emergencies on critical infrastructure.