PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS ENDORSES BILL TO STRENGTHEN AMERICA’S NATIONAL STOCKPILE

August 18, 2020
Press Release
Bill would help ensure U.S. is able and ready to respond to any future public health crisis

WASHINGTON - Today, the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, legislation focused on creating more transparency and accountability to the Strategic National Stockpile to ensure we are prepared to continue to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and any future public health crises.

 

Problem Solvers, Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Fred Upton, introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, they later brought the bill to the caucus for endorsement where more than 75 percent of the 50-member caucus agreed to support the bill.

 

The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act combines 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. 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ventilators and other supplies to fight the pandemic, failing to fulfill requests for supplies or providing expired our outdated items.

 

"It is only fair that we carefully review this current situation and take steps to fully understand how we can work better going forward,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Tom Reed. “This legislation can help ensure our nation is stronger and more prepared for the next emergency.”

 

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that we must do more to prepare for the next national emergency,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Josh Gottheimer. “Moving forward, we can’t rely on the rest of the world to build our ventilators, supply our medicine, get syringes and needles ready for a vaccine, or construct our masks and gowns. I’m proud that the Problem Solvers Caucus is backing this bipartisan legislation that will help ensure our country is better prepared for the next crisis."

 

“Our frontline medical providers have been in combat against a deadly virus without the armor they need to protect themselves," said Rep. Elissa Slotkin. "When Michigan and other states across the country 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. The Problem Solvers Caucus’ endorsement of my legislation sends a strong bipartisan message that we should never again be dependent on foreign suppliers for equipment we need to keep Americans safe in a crisis. This virus doesn’t pay attention to party politics and neither should we. With this strong show of support from members on both sides of the aisle and given the looming possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, I hope the Senate takes this bill up as soon as possible, so that we can pass it into law.”

 

"In a global health crisis, there is so much uncertainty, but one thing should always be certain - hospitals, medical providers, and first responders must have the PPE and other medical equipment they need to protect themselves and others,” said Rep. Fred Upton. “This bipartisan initiative to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile is common sense and would ensure that we will be able to get life-saving care into the right hands at the right time. I’m proud that the Problem Solvers Caucus recognizes the importance of this legislation and I hope to see it across the finish line.”

 

“As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, improving our nation’s manufacturing capacity is critical to ensuring that America’s first responders and healthcare workers are prepared for public health emergencies,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell. “The bipartisan Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act meets this need by incorporating key reforms to the SNS that will provide flexibility to better respond to future emergencies, while creating incentives to geographically diversify production of medical supplies, which I led and championed with Rep. Walorski during E&C markup of this important bill.”

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us why America’s heavy dependence on other nations for our medical supplies is dangerous, which has exposed our patients and frontline health care workers to more risk than necessary,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “We need to strengthen American manufacturing and modernize our nation’s Strategic National Stockpile to safeguard our domestic access to medical supplies. I’m proud to stand with my Problem Solvers Caucus colleagues from both sides of the aisle in endorsing the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act.”

 

"As the United States continues to battle the coronavirus, we must protect our nation’s stockpile by preventing expirations, increasing funding, and boosting domestic production and manufacturing efforts,” said Rep. Don Bacon. “H.R. 7574 will help the U.S. become more independent and efficient when manufacturing essential PPE for the American people. I have championed similar legislation that ensures respiratory protection devices are available to the public in the wake of a national emergency like COVID-19, and I am confident this legislation introduced by Reps. Slotkin and Upton will put us on the road to recovery."

 

“This spring, a lack of national coordination and preparation led to a shortage of urgently-needed equipment, supplies, and PPE across our country, significantly hindering the ability of states and tribes to respond to outbreaks of COVID-19 quickly and effectively,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran. “Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in many parts of our country. We must ensure—both at the national and state level—that we have the resources we need to protect the health and safety of our communities and health care workers, and that we are not dependent on other nations for these critical supplies.”

 

“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. “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." 

 

“This pandemic has made it clear that we need more reliable access to a sufficient supply of medical equipment, and I’m pleased to work with my Republican and Democrat colleagues to promote the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act to reduce our dependency on foreign sources for these critical medical supplies,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.  “This bipartisan solution will strengthen our Strategic National Stockpile, allowing communities in Southwest Washington and across the country to quickly obtain the tools they need to respond to future pandemics or natural disasters.”

 

“America has laws to ensure a sufficient supply of equipment and materials to protect our national security interests,” said Rep. Mike Bost. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that we need similar capacities to protect our public health interests.”

 

“The fact that our healthcare workers are still fighting a shortage of protective equipment half a year into this pandemic is simply embarrassing,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “Without a strategic national plan from the Administration to guide us during this time, we have been forced to depend on other countries for the PPE needed to keep them safe. This bill will ensure more critical supplies are made in America and end our dependency on help from other nations.”

 

“The Strategic National Stockpile is an important pillar of our disaster preparedness strategy,” said Rep. Dan Lipinski. “Both parties agree that we can and should be better prepared to confront future crises in whatever forms they may take. By ensuring that our stockpile is well maintained and stocked with vaccines, antibiotics, and American-manufactured medical supplies, we can better protect the American people and more quickly direct essential resources to those in need.”

 

 

If enacted, 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.

 

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The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprised of 50 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).