S. 1798 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. 1798 also would create an Office of Health Security (OHS) within DHS. That office would assume responsibility for all of the department’s medical and public health activities that are currently handled by other offices, including food, agriculture, and veterinary defense, as well as workforce health and safety. The bill also would protect any medical record created by DHS from disclosure, with certain exceptions, and create new fines for any person who willfully discloses such a record.
S. 1798 would require the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study DHS’s role in preparing for biological and health security threats and the Government Accountability Office to review CWMD’s efforts and effectiveness.