Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) last week circulated draft legislation that would remove regulatory and financial barriers to industry involvement in biodefense activities and provide financial incentives. Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) released an outline for legislation with similar objectives. Senior Republicans in the House and Senate expressed support for the general principles in both bills but balked at the price tags - $10 and $7 billion, respectively. The parties are discussing compromises that would trim the costs.

Kennedy's bill, which was drafted with input from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), would authorize the government to enter into long-term contracts for R&D and manufacturing of vaccines, therapies, diagnostics and other bioterrorism countermeasures.