Soto, Yoho Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Healthcare Workers and First Responders

March 26, 2020
Press Release

Today, Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Ted S. Yoho (R-FL) introduced the bipartisan American-Made Protection for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Act to ensure the United States builds its stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This bill is a House companion bill to Senator Rick Scott’s introduced in the Senate with the same title. 

PPE is essential for the safety of our first responders and healthcare workers while they are on the front lines battling the coronavirus and caring for the sick. The American-Made Protection for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Act will address the current PPE shortage and build the national stockpile of goods from American-based producers. This will eliminate our dependence on foreign supply chains, like China, during a crisis.

“Hospitals in Florida and across America are reaching crisis levels as they face shortages of basic supplies like facemasks, gowns and gloves,” said Rep. Soto. “The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably shown us the importance of having American-made emergency stockpiles while limiting our dependence on foreign supply chains. Our bipartisan bill seeks to prioritize the production of resources needed to protect frontline health workers and ensure these catastrophic shortages never happen again.” 

“I am honored to join Senator Scott and Congressman Soto in this bipartisan effort to provide America’s healthcare providers and first responders with the equipment they need to care for those affected by the Coronavirus,” said Rep. Yoho. “It is imperative that we provide these brave men and women with the supplies they need to safely perform their important work. This bill also strengthens our national security by moving the manufacture of critical supplies to the United States and away from Communist China. This current pandemic is a stark reminder that we must not depend on foreign supply chains in times of emergencies. The creation of a strategic stockpile of American-made PPE is the right thing to do so we will be fully prepared for future outbreaks.

The American-Made Protection for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Act:

  • Authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain its own Strategic National Stockpile of PPE for our nation’s first responders. 
    • PPE includes gowns, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks (surgical masks) and respirators (like N95) or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. PPE also includes disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, ventilators and respirators.
  • Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with DHS, to include and maintain, at all times, PPE at HHS’ National Strategic Stockpile that can respond to a nationwide pandemic.
  • Prohibits all U.S. Federal Government Agencies from procuring PPE from foreign suppliers and prioritizes buying American.
    • This requirement would be phased-in over 12 months.
  • Requires HHS to establish pre-disaster contracts for PPE to prepare in advance for any presidential public health emergency declaration to ensure producers are able to meet the needs of the public.