With Threats of Biological Warfare on the Rise, Chairman Ernst Holds Hearing Examining America’s Defenses

Ernst questioned witnesses on the impacts biological threats have on Iowa agriculture and the importance of cooperation and efficiency by federal agencies in defending our homeland

WASHINGTON – With threats of biological warfare against America on the rise, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (ETC), led a subcommittee hearing focused on the Department of Defense and overall federal government’s preparedness for responding to these types of attacks. U.S. leadership in this area has enabled the security and prosperity of global trade, prevented further spread of epidemics, and lessened the prevalence of unrest in vulnerable and under resourced regions.

Chairman Ernst opened the hearing, the first the Armed Services Committee has held on this topic in 20 years, with remarks on the National Biodefense Strategy and an overview of the severity and variety of biological threats we face today and in the future. In addition, she expanded on the impacts that biological attacks can have on her home state of Iowa, specifically in the agriculture sector.

To watch Senator Ernst’s opening remarks, click here or on the photo above.

Under her leadership, committee members held a productive conversation on the prospective of deliberate or non-deliberate bio-attacks, the proliferation of biological weapons, and bio-centric threats to sectors of our society such as agriculture, bioengineering, pharmaceuticals, and emerging technologies.  Ernst went on to question the witnesses on several key areas, including the impact of biological threats on Iowa pork and how the Department will be proactive on threats from near-peer competitors and state and non-state actors.  In addition, Chairman Ernst pressed the witnesses on the efficiency and coordination between government agencies to defend against this type of warfare, including cooperation in research and development.

To watch Chairman Ernst’s questioning, click here or on the photo above.

Panelists at the ETC Subcommittee hearing included:

  • Dr. Julie Gerberding, Co-chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security
  • Dr. Thomas V. Inglesby Director at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Tara J. O’Toole, Senior Fellow and Executive Vice President at In-Q-Tel

To watch the full ETC Subcommittee hearing, click here.