Package to Overhaul National Stockpile, Make More Critical Supplies In America Passes House with Unanimous, Bipartisan Support

September 22, 2020
Press Release
Congressman Soto was an original co-sponsor

WASHINGTON –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s (MI-08) bipartisan Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous, bipartisan support on Monday. Slotkin’s legislation, which she introduced with Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), would reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies the country needs to fight COVID-19 by making much-needed improvements and updates to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), and boosting domestic manufacturing of those supplies here in America.

Slotkin introduced the legislation after weeks of working with district health care providers to find sources for those desperately needed medical supplies, as cases surged in the spring. The package now passes amidst a “fall surge” of COVID-19 cases across the country, raising concerns of a potential second wave of the virus. 

“This bipartisan package came directly from my experience trying to get PPE for our frontline workers, and was drafted to ensure we are never again dependent on foreign suppliers for equipment we need to keep Americans safe in a crisis,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin said. “I’m thrilled that it passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in the House. During the heat of the COVID-19 crisis, when Michigan and other states called on the Strategic National Stockpile for urgently needed masks, gloves and other protective gear, what we got was nowhere close to what we needed. After fighting to get masks from China to hospitals here in my district, I introduced this bipartisan legislation to reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers, improve our ability to protect our frontline workers, and help make more critical medical supplies here in America.”

The bill includes provisions originally introduced as part of Slotkin’s Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, as well as other bipartisan provisions led by Reps. Debbie Dingell, Susan Brooks, Anna Eshoo, Jeff Van Drew, Jackie Walorski, Buddy Carter, Tom O'Halleran, and David McKinley to strengthen the stockpile, a repository of critical supplies and medicines maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as help spur domestic manufacturing of those supplies to prevent reliance on foreign suppliers in future crises.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the stockpile has been unable to fulfill urgent needs in the states for personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies to fight the pandemic, failing to fulfill requests for supplies or providing expired our outdated items. Michigan in particular experienced dire shortages of PPE, encountered difficulty in accessing those supplies from the SNS, or received supplies that were expired, putting front-line providers at risk.

Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Earl L. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Diana DeGette (D-CO), David McKinley (R-WV), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Fred Upton (R-MI), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Michael Burgess (R-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) are original co-sponsors on the bill. The legislation has been endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

"This unprecedented pandemic has demonstrated the importance of reinforcing our Strategic National Stockpile," said Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN). "We need to ensure it is capable of responding to a diverse range of threats, including disasters with long-term, sustained demand like COVID-19. My colleagues and I have spent countless hours communicating directly with stakeholders involved in the stockpile to find ways to increase its effectiveness and sustainability. Our Nation needs to fundamentally reimagine how we prepare for pandemics. From expanding State-level stockpiles to reinforcing our domestic production capabilities for critical supplies, this bill is an important step towards that goal. Congress must also commit to significantly increasing funding for these programs in a long-term, sustainable way. Too often those long-term investments are the first things to be sidelined when budgets get tight. I am pleased this bipartisan legislation passed the House, and I encourage my Senate colleagues to move on this crucial legislation promptly." 

"The coronavirus crisis shined a light on cracks in our society and economic foundations,” said
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
“Cracks in the supply chain and decades of weakening domestic manufacturing left us unable to respond in a quick and efficient manner. We must address issues with the Strategic National Stockpile to strengthen domestic manufacturing and improving our national security so we can better respond to crises. This strong bill includes my bipartisan provisions that enhance the medical supply chain elasticity, diversifies production of personal protective equipment, and refreshes and replenishes existing stocks of medical supplies to strengthen the federal government’s ability to respond to future disasters."

“One of the key lessons from the coronavirus response has been the need to break our dependence on China for production of medicines, PPE, and other critical medical supplies,” Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) said. “Today we’re taking a major step toward making sure our front line health care providers and other essential workers have the equipment they need to keep themselves and others safe. I’m grateful the House came together to pass the bipartisan Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act – which includes my bill to boost domestic manufacturing of PPE – and I hope this vital legislation reaches the president’s desk quickly.”

“We’re working day and night to end the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again. To do that, the United States cannot rely on other countries for critical medical supplies,”said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). “We need to start producing more PPE and other medical equipment here so that our hospitals and first responders have what they need to protect themselves and others. This bill the House passed today will allow us to do just that.”

“I applaud the House for passing this very important, bipartisan legislation and I’m very glad the State Strategic Stockpile Readiness Act was included,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). The COVID-19 pandemic has made it very clear that we need to be better prepared for future health emergencies. During the pandemic, some states were not prepared to deal with the large influx of patients needing ventilators and other medical products. We also saw countries like China and India withhold therapeutics and pharmaceutical ingredients. This will make sure states are prepared and able to respond quickly by having their own stockpile ready, in addition to the federal strategic stockpile.”

"The shortages of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic exposed a glaring weakness in our supply chain,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). “Simply put we are too reliant on foreign nations for vital medical supplies. Improving the Strategic National Stockpile and working to bring manufacturing of PPE and other supplies back to America will help make sure we are equipped to face these challenges in the future.”

“I’m pleased our Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act has passed the House,” said Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT). “Our bipartisan package provides measures to improve the Strategic National Stockpile, replenish its supplies, and ensure its equipment and supplies are maintained properly and replaced before expiration. We need to make sure our country is prepared to deal with whatever crisis it faces, no matter if it’s disease, disaster, or terrorism.”

“A strong Strategic National Stockpile safeguards the nation’s readiness to respond to a wide variety of threats, particularly biological, chemical and nuclear,” said Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX). “The passage of this bipartisan legislation today, bolsters the SNS so that it can more effectively assist state and local partners in the ongoing response to this pandemic, as well as future public health emergencies.”

"The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably shown us the importance of having emergency stockpiles while limiting our dependence on foreign supply chains,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL). “Moving forward, the modernization of the Strategic National Stockpile Act is critical to strengthening the production of resources needed to protect frontline health workers while implementing an improved, transparent process for the use and distribution of emergency supplies. Together we can ensure the catastrophic shortages that occurred earlier this year never happen again."

“Throughout this pandemic, our frontline workers weren’t getting the PPE they needed, and states had to outbid each other for ventilators and medical equipment. We can’t be in that position again, especially as we’re entering flu season,” said Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA). “I’m grateful the House passed our bipartisan bill to replenish and strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile while boosting domestic manufacturing of critical supplies. This legislation will help ensure we meet the challenges of our current pandemic and are well equipped to deal with future crises.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of our Strategic National Stockpile and making medical products in America," said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC). "As part of my commitment to getting our community and country needed resources, I was proud to co-sponsor the Strengthening America’s National Stockpile Act and help advance it in Congress. This legislation will deliver critical investments in our ability to respond to and prepare for public health crises like COVID-19."

"Now more than ever, our nation’s health infrastructure is in desperate need of bold modernization and robust investment,” said Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC). “The House passage of the Strengthening America's Strategic National Stockpile Act is a critical step towards fortifying our public health defense as we continue to face the challenges of this pandemic. This legislation can help to provide support for the American people during this health crisis and others that may come.  This bill should be quickly passed through the Senate and signed into law."

“As America braces for a second wave of COVID-19, Congress must act to provide our hospitals and frontline health care workers with the personal protective equipment they need to keep themselves and their patients safe,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will prevent the dangerous medical supply shortages that our country experienced at the onset of the pandemic and help save lives. I hope the Senate will follow the House’s example and pass this bill as soon as possible.”

“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). “We must reconstitute our healthcare and public safety supply chain back to the United States. Medical products, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, emergency response equipment, and all other critical items and materials needed to respond to a national emergency must be produced domestically for domestic consumption, especially during a critical, time-sensitive crisis,” said Fitzpatrick. “I am glad to see the House taking action on the bipartisan Strengthening America's Strategic National Stockpile Act, which will ensure that we are making the necessary updates and improvements to our national and state stockpiles while increasing domestic manufacturing of critical supplies. ”

Slotkin’s legislation will:

  • Make sure stockpile items are in good working order and ready to use if and when a crisis hits. Will ensure items in the stockpile are in good working order and aren’t expired by requiring regular maintenance.
  • Increase the manufacturing of critical supplies in America. Will boost domestic production of critical supplies by establishing a $500 million pilot program to diversify sources of personal protective equipment and partnering with industry to replenish existing stocks.
  • Improve stockpile financial security and reduce waste by allowing the transfer of stockpile items nearing their expiration dates to other federal agencies.
  • Bring transparency to past stockpile allocations. Will require the administration to report to Congress on all state, local, tribal and territorial requests for stockpile supplies during the pandemic and the response to each request.
  • Bring transparency to the process for stockpile allocations. Will require the development of improved, transparent processes for the distribution of goods from the stockpile and provide the states with clear, transparent guidelines on how to request distributions from the stockpile.
  • Take steps to return money to taxpayers when companies profit off of SNS products. Will explore the possibility of further strengthening the stockpile financially by requiring a Government Accountability Office study on implementing a user fee to reimburse the stockpile for items such as antitoxins, for which it is the sole provider and for which health care providers or others may charge patients. 
  • Support states’ readiness in a public health emergency. Will establish a pilot program to support state efforts to expand and maintain their own stockpiles.
  • Put more resources behind the SNS. Will provide increased resources for the stockpile by raising annual authorized funding for its operations from $610 million to $705 million for fiscal years 2020 through 2023.

 

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