Today marks the 17th anniversary of the infamous “anthrax letters,” distributed beginning one week after the September 11 attacks of 2001. “Thought to be an indication of possible further terrorist activity,” National Security Advisor John Bolton says, these letters brought to Americans’ attention—many for the first time—the very real threat of bioweapons in the hands of our enemies.
America cannot afford to take chances. Under President Donald J. Trump, it won’t. Today, the President signed off on a first-of-its-kind National Biodefense Strategy, one that signals “a new direction” in our approach to biological threats.
The strategy’s key objective is creating a more efficient and accountable biodefense enterprise. Until now, Federal agencies have had disparate programs that were not centrally coordinated. Today’s Memorandum names Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar as the Federal lead for biodefense and establishes a Cabinet-level Biodefense Steering Committee.
Biological threats know no borders. Whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate in nature, these risks are among the most serious facing America and its allies. The 2001 anthrax attacks, the 2009 influenza pandemic, the 2014 Ebola epidemic, and the more recent Zika epidemic all reveal the potential for widespread harm and anxiety if such threats are left ignored.
“With these actions today, I am reaffirming my unwavering commitment to protecting the American people, the American homeland, and the American way of life,” President Trump writes.
‘Critical bipartisan legislation’ on opioids
Yesterday, Congress scored a bipartisan win in its effort to take on America’s opioid crisis. The Senate passed its Amendment to H.R. 6, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which takes a major step toward realizing a whole-of-government approach to combatting drug demand.
President Trump has made the opioid response a top priority across his Administration. Toward that end, this vital legislation would:
- Reduce the amount of illicit fentanyl entering the country
- Improve treatment for infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome
- Create job-training programs for Americans in recovery
- Reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy to continue overseeing Federal drug control efforts, including public awareness campaigns
“The Administration looks forward to working with both chambers as the legislative process continues to get a bill to the President’s desk to mitigate this crisis next door,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Photo of the Day
Official White House Photo by Benjamin Tuck
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcome His Excellency Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, and Mrs. Kornhauser-Duda to the White House | September 18, 2018