05.01.20

Peters, Stabenow Call for Stronger Federal Response to Coronavirus Pandemic by Incentivizing Companies to Manufacture Critical Medical Supplies

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) announced they are joining their colleagues to introduce legislation to strengthen the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic under the Defense Production Act, which gives the government the ability to incentivize and direct companies to produce vital medical supplies. The Trump Administration has not fully utilized authorities under the law to address the pandemic, including to direct additional manufacturing of personal protective equipment, respirators, masks, hospital gowns, and other critical medical supplies. Additionally, the Administration has not provided transparent and accurate reporting about where they are sending critical medical supplies, which would allow states to better plan for their communities’ needs. The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would require the president to utilize all available Defense Production Act authorities to mobilize a more effective pandemic response and ensure that state and local governments are receiving critical supplies.

“I have repeatedly pressed the Administration to use the full authorities under the Defense Production Act to strengthen our nation’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic and ensure that medical supplies and other resources get to the Michigan communities who need them,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “This bill would streamline the federal pandemic response, address shortcomings in medical supply manufacturing and distribution, and increase transparency around how critical supplies are purchased and distributed among the states. As we work together to tackle this public health crisis, I will continue to press for commonsense solutions to protect the health and safety of Michiganders.”

“Michigan health care providers and first responders who are on the front lines of this crisis are in need of medical supplies to keep themselves safe and care for others,” said Senator Stabenow. “The lack of leadership in developing a federal plan for our medical supply chain has left states and their health care providers on their own to secure the medical supplies needed to fight COVID-19. It’s time for the Administration to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure that our hospitals are getting the critical resources that they need.”

The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would:

  • Appoint a single civilian service member as the “Executive Officer for Critical Medical Equipment and Supplies” to lead the national production and distribution of critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment, including respirators, masks, and hospital gowns, that are needed to slow the spread of the virus;
  • Create a public website updated daily with important COVID-19 response data, and require a weekly report with estimated medical supply need and availability, for states and nationally;
  • Require commercial medical supply distributors to provide information on their manufacturing and distribution capacity, and mandates the President to issue priority purchase orders under the Defense Production Act;
  • Require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing, and address supply chain problems in order to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Require GAO to conduct an assessment of the Strategic National Stockpile and make recommendations to strengthen future pandemic response; and
  • Appoint an existing Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act.

The legislation is supported by the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers.

In March, Peters called for the President to exercise authorities under the Defense Production Act to help guide manufacturers to produce and strategically allocate medical supplies, preventing and addressing local shortages. Peters also joined his colleagues in introducing a resolution calling on the President to act swiftly under the Defense Production Act to address serious shortages of life-saving ventilators, respirator masks, and personal protective equipment such as gloves.

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