Given the attacks of 2001 and the potential catastrophic risk of biological weapons in the hands of terrorist groups like al Qaeda, the Project BioShield Act of 2004 is an important step forward in improving our national preparedness. The initiative should have been developed sooner. The urgency of the threat should have trumped the parochial concerns of the drug industry. However, BioShield does shows that, when the government works on a genuine bipartisan basis, our security can be improved. Unfortunately, such bipartisan moments have been few and far between as the Bush administration has routinely used homeland security as a wedge issue for political benefit.
Even with the $5.6 billion over 10 years to increase stockpile existing vaccines and develop new drugs and treatments to improve our biodefense, we lack an effective strategy and the necessary emergency medical infrastructure to distribute and administer life-saving drugs and antidotes in the event of an attack. Genuine homeland security remains largely an unfunded requirement and the Bush administration is not providing the resources, particularly to our cities and states, to match its political rhetoric=
P.J. Crowley is a senior fellow and national security expert at the Center for American Progress.