The first priority of the federal government is the security of our nation and the safety of our citizens. In recent months, terrorist attacks have struck countries around the world, and we know too well this risk right here in the United States. We must take steps now to improve our counterterrorism efforts, to enhance our screening processes, and to give law enforcement and intelligence communities with the tools they need to prevent terrorist attacks. That’s why I supported H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, to close gaps in our screening processes and keep our country safer. It's also why I support efforts to rebuild and modernize our military and offer our troops a much deserved pay raise.
In addition to providing for our national defense, we must prepare for other threats like biological weapons, epidemics and outbreaks, and natural disasters. I am leading efforts in Congress to strengthen our national biodefense capabilities. Biodefense is our readiness for and protections against biological threats like Ebola, anthrax and other dangerous and deadly diseases and pathogens.
H.R. 3299, the Strengthening Public Health Emergency Response Act, expands the Priority Review Voucher program for material threats to our national security identified by the Department of Homeland Security. Expanding the program incentivizes the development, testing and distribution of vaccines and treatments for dangerous diseases. Ensuring faster development of critical medical countermeasures like vaccines and treatments, and eliminating bureaucratic red tape, this bill is a good step forward to improve our national security and to better protect the health of every American. H.R. 3299 was signed into law in 2016.
Our national readiness and biodefense capabilities must continue to be improved. The threat to our national security posed by dangerous and deadly diseases and pathogens, like Ebola or anthrax, is constant and cannot be underestimated. Given reports that ISIS and other terrorist groups are pursuing chemical and biological weapons, we must act now to prepare ourselves for the challenges that these kinds of weapons pose to our collective health and national security.
We must also continue to address the global threat to our security from the regime in North Korea. Kim Jung-Un's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach the United States is one of the most pressing challenges we faces as a nation. I will continue to encourage President Trump and the administration to deal urgently with provocations from North Korea. We must strongly protect our interests and those of our allies in the region.