April 11 (UPI) -- Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced a bill Friday that would require President Donald Trump to appoint a global health coordinator and create an inter-agency council to prepare for pandemics.
The Global Health Security Act would require Trump to create a Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council, which would meet at least four times a year and consist of officials from across the federal government, to provide recommendations on and help carry out global health policy.
The bill, which has been introduced in the House by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), would also require the President to appoint a coordinator for global health security, who would be responsible for coordinating the administration's response to global health emergencies.
The new coordinator would also be required to brief Congress at least twice a year.
"Our experience with coronavirus has exposed some glaring gaps in our nation's capacity to respond to a pandemic, and it is critical that we are better prepared to coordinate global responses and exert leadership to address future health threats," Romney said in a statement. "By establishing a health security council and dedicating a new NSC position to developing global health strategies and coordinating responses, our bill will better prepare us to confront the spread of another infectious disease."
The bill comes amid criticism of Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, including reports that National Security Council staffers tasked with pandemic response abruptly left their jobs in 2018 and were not replaced.
Romney and Murphy are encouraging Trump to make sure the coordinator has "significant background and expertise in public health or emergency response management."
"Our priority right now should be taking decisive action to contain COVID-19's spread and rescuing our economy. But if we don't also spend time fixing the gaps in our global pandemic response leadership, we're at risk of going through this nightmare all over again. Pandemics don't run on schedules, and so we need to start the job of reform now," Murphy said in a statement.