Bipartisan Legislation to Overhaul National Stockpile Includes Walorski Measure to Strengthen Domestic Manufacturing of Critical Medical Supplies

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded House passage of her bipartisan bill to strengthen domestic manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE). The bill passed the House with unanimous support as part of bipartisan legislation to overhaul the Strategic National Stockpile and end U.S. dependence on China for critical medical supplies.

“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,”Congresswoman Walorski (R-Ind.) said. “We are 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.”

“The coronavirus crisis shined a light on cracks in our society and economic foundations,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.). “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.”

“This unprecedented pandemic has demonstrated the importance of reinforcing our Strategic National Stockpile,” said Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-Ind.). “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.” 

“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 (D-Mich.) 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.”

BACKGROUND

The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act combined several bipartisan bills previously introduced to spur domestic manufacturing and strengthen the stockpile, a repository of critical supplies and medicines maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to respond to public health emergencies.

The legislation, which passed the House Monday by unanimous voice vote, includes the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act, which Walorski and Dingell introduced in April. Their bill would enhance medical supply chain elasticity, improve the domestic production of PPE, and partner with industry to refresh and replenish existing stocks of medical supplies.

The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act would:

  • 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 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 process for stockpile allocations. Will require development of improved, transparent processes for 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. This legislation will also 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.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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