Congressman Connolly Wants to Be Ready for the Next Pandemic

Jun 29, 2021

One member of Virginia's congressional delegation is working across party lines to help head off the next pandemic.

Now that there's light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic, Virginia's congressional delegation is already looking ahead to the national security issues that might be raised by the next pandemic.

"Diseases do not stop at national borders," says Congressman Gerry Connolly, a Democrat who represents Fairfax County in Congress.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing earlier this year.
Credit Ting Shen / Pool via AP

This week, the House passed his Global Health Security Act, which re-establishes a position dedicated to preparing for pandemics on the National Security Council -- a position established by Barack Obama and eliminated by Donald Trump.

"Global health crises are ongoing and increasing, and they affect national security," Connolly says. "Saving lives for the next global pandemic starts now by investing in preparedness before it strikes."

The bill creates an international fund for pandemic preparedness and requires a global health security strategy. Now, Connolly worked with several prominent conservative Republicans, including the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Mike McCaul.

"COVID-19 has proven viruses know no borders," McCaul says. "It's imperative that the United States works to prevent future pandemics and be prepared to respond to diseases with pandemic potential."

About half of the House Republicans voted for the bill, although all four of Virginia's Republican House members voted against it.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.