- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Trying to anticipate "the most evil mind," the House voted yesterday to spend billions to prepare hospitals and build vaccine stockpiles for a bioterrorism attack and to increase security at borders, laboratories and waterworks.
The bioterrorism bill passed the House on a 425-1 vote, propelled by concerns from the fall's anthrax attacks and worries this week that anthrax may have been found at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The lone vote against the bill was cast by Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican.
"We've tried to think as evilly as we could," said Rep. Billy Tauzin, Louisiana Republican, a drafter of the bill. "What would the most evil person do to disrupt our health-supply system or our clean-water system? What would the most evil mind try to do if they learned how to fly a crop-duster? We went through that awful exercise of trying to think like the most evil person on earth."
Reminiscent of the days after the September 11 attacks, passage of the bill authorizing $4.6 billion over the next two years elicited unusual unity among lawmakers.
"Today, we send a message to those who would use deadly disease as a message of terror that America is ready," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and the lead Senate negotiator on the bill.
Added Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, "There is no higher priority than protecting the American people from enemies. Our enemies just don't understand that before we are Republicans and Democrats, we are all patriots."
Later in the day, the House passed a separate bill, 327-101, authorizing $5 billion to help the U.S. Customs Service buy special equipment to fight terrorism at the borders. Since September 11, the agency has shifted its primary mission from catching drug smugglers to thwarting terrorists, especially stopping deadly biological, chemical or nuclear weapons from being smuggled into the country.
The House also was trying to finish a $29 billion anti-terrorism spending bill before it recesses for the Memorial Day holiday. Nearly $16 billion of that money is for the military, but the bill also would pour billions into domestic security programs, including $5.5 billion to help New York rebuild from the attacks and $4 billion to increase security at airports and on airliners.
Senate leaders hope to take up the bioterrorism bill before leaving tomorrow for a weeklong recess, but it was not certain whether they would get to the measure.
States would get $1.6 billion in grants to prepare for a biological attack, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would get $300 million to upgrade aging facilities.
An additional $1.15 billion would go to stockpile vaccines, including enough smallpox vaccine for every American.
The legislation would enable the Food and Drug Administration to hire hundreds of new inspectors to protect the nation from contaminated food. Drinking-water systems would also get money to assess their vulnerability to terrorist attack and develop emergency plans.
The bill seeks to strengthen security at laboratories by creating a national database of dangerous pathogens.
Five persons died in the fall anthrax attacks, and at least 13 others contracted and recovered from either the skin or respiratory form of the disease.
An unrelated attachment to the bioterrorism bill would renew a law that allows the Food and Drug Administration to charge fees to pharmaceutical companies to pay for speedier review of new medications.


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