S. 4465 would permanently reauthorize the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CWMD leads DHS’s efforts to prevent the use of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons, and promotes readiness against such attacks by coordinating with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as the private sector. Under current law, CWMD’s authorization expires on December 21, 2023.
S. 4465 also would create an Office of Health Security (OHS) within the Office of the Secretary. The office would be responsible for all of DHS’s medical and public health activities, including food, agriculture, and veterinary defense, and workforce health and safety, transferring these functions from component units. The bill also would protect any medical record created by DHS from disclosure, with certain exceptions, and create new fines for any individual who willfully discloses such a record.
S. 4465 would create additional reporting requirements, including a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on DHS’s role in preparing for biological and health security threats and a Government Accountability Office review of CWMD’s efforts and effectiveness.