Press Releases

House Intelligence Committee Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring National Intelligence Estimate on Threat of Global Pandemic Disease

Washington DC, June 16, 2020

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, along with all Committee Democrats, introduced legislation requiring the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to produce a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the threat of global pandemic disease in the wake of COVID-19, which has infected over 2 million Americans and killed more than 115,000. 

NIEs are the Intelligence Community’s preeminent strategic assessments, and, as such, are infrequently requested by Congress and reserved for the most serious of issues with domestic, global, and national security implications and consequences — like this pandemic. The NIE will help posture the government to deal with future epidemics and pandemics and assess the impact of this pandemic on the international security environment.

“Even as we continue to respond to this pandemic which has taken more than 115,000 American lives, our nation has to be prepared for future diseases and viruses that come to our shores. That’s why Congress should request a National Intelligence Estimate,” said Chairman Schiff. “By knowing more about how the world is postured to deal with future pandemics, and how the current pandemic will reshape both our national security and the international community, we can be better prepared to respond to similar outbreaks in the future.”

The key judgments of an NIE will help the next White House and Congress set policy priorities, orient the direction of whole-of-government efforts to address changes in the international security situation, and guide future budgets to allocate taxpayer dollars against the most important threats facing the nation. An NIE will also help Congress shape legislative and appropriations priorities -- and facilitate rigorous oversight -- to ensure that the U.S. Government is oriented in a forward-looking way against future risks.

Schiff’s legislation was co-sponsored by all Democrats on the Committee, including Reps. Jim Himes (D-CT), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Andre Carson (D-IN), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Denny Heck (D-WA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Val Demings (D-FL) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

The legislation would require the Intelligence Community to produce:

  • An assessment of the possible courses of the pandemic during the 18 months following the date of the estimate;

  • An assessment of the global public health system, including opportunities to advance the development of an effective global disease surveillance and response system; and

  • An assessment of the changes to -- and challenges for -- the U.S.-led international order.  

The legislation would also require the Executive Branch to produce, in short order, two reports: 

  • A plan for a whole-of-government response to a potential second wave of COVID-19 and other future pandemic diseases; and

  • A global strategy for mobilizing international institutions to combat COVID-19. 

The government has produced numerous NIEs, like the one being proposed here; for example, on Global Infectious Disease Threat in 2000Iraq and Saddam Hussein in 1997, Iraq and security challenges in 2007, and Iran and nuclear weapons in 2007.

The bill can be found here.