Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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COVID-19 Legislation

COVID-19 Legislation 


                                                                                           
Reps. Brooks and Eshoo Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Create a National Strategy to End U.S. Dependence on Foreign Manufacturing of Lifesaving Drugs


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (IN-05) and Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) introduced the Prescription for American Drug Independence Act. The legislation requires the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene a committee of experts to analyze the impact of U.S. dependence on the manufacturing of lifesaving drugs and make recommendations to Congress within 90 days to ensure the U.S. has a diverse drug supply chain to adequately protect our country from natural or hostile occurrences.


“The United States has long been dependent on foreign drug manufacturers with potentially severe consequences for our domestic supply chains and ingredients for components of our pharmaceutical products, especially during this pandemic,” said Brooks. “Whether we’ve experienced drug shortages or supply chain disruptions, we recognize there is a huge issue and Congress must work to fix it. This bipartisan legislation will take rapid steps to ensure the United States has better visibility into our own pharmaceutical supply chain.”


“Our nation’s overreliance on the foreign production of critical drugs and their ingredients has led to drug shortages and subpar quality. The U.S. currently is dependent on China for the key ingredients in antibiotics and blood pressure medications. Our country is also dependent on foreign manufacturing of our supply of generic drugs, which represents up to 90% of the prescriptions that Americans take,” said Eshoo. “Our fragile supply chain has long been a problem, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now an emergency. The U.S. must have a national strategy to eliminate foreign dependence for critical drugs and with it, Congress can move quickly to act on the recommendations of the experts.”
 
BACKGROUND
The Prescription for American Drug Independence Act would direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to:

  • Convene a committee of experts to examine the drug supply chain, including the sourcing and manufacturing of drugs.
  • Submit the expert committee’s analysis and recommendations to the Congress within 90 days.

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Brooks and Eshoo Introduce the Stockpile Inventory Modernization Act

WASHINGTON, DC – On April 17, Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA18) introduced H.R. 6516, the Stockpile Inventory Modernization (SIM) Act of 2020 to allow our Strategic National Stockpile to better serve Americans.

“Under current law, the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is forced to throw away countless dollars of personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals per year as those items expire,” said Brooks. “This critical piece of legislation will give the SNS the authority to sell such products to other federal agencies before they expire, thus saving the American taxpayers money. It will expand the ability of the SNS to keep the supplies on its shelves up-to-date by allowing it to work with other Federal agencies to meet their mutual needs. When another Federal Agency has a need for a product stockpiled on the SNS’ shelves, the agency can engage in an agreement with the SNS to purchase that product. This will have the dual effect of saving American taxpayers’ money, by allowing other agencies to purchase at a discount, while also allowing the SNS to keep the supplies on its shelves.”
 
“The current COVID-19 emergency has demonstrated that the SNS plays a critical role in our nation’s response to a public health event, but the pandemic has also highlighted the need for long overdue improvements to the way SNS operates,” said Eshoo. “I’m proud to sponsor this important legislation to give the SNS additional flexibility and stretch taxpayer dollars further so that we can respond to the current pandemic and be prepared for the next.”
 
BACKGROUND

The Stockpile Inventory Modernization Act of 2020 gives the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) the ability to make sales to other Federal agencies.
 
This bipartisan legislation was created to allow SNS to sell existing product on its shelves to other agencies so that SNS can recover some fraction of the original purchase price which it can then reinvest in new inventory for the shelves. The Federal agencies purchasing the products will also benefit from this. They will be receiving a discount on product they would have otherwise had to purchase at full price from a manufacturer.
 
Currently, the SNS buys a product directly from manufacturers then keeps it on the shelf until expiry. Upon expiry, the product is destroyed and the SNS has to use new appropriations to restock.
 
This legislation will have the dual benefit of saving American taxpayers money while simultaneously improving the ability of our stockpile to keeps its inventory up-to-date.
 
This legislation does not obligate the SNS or any agency to engage in such sale. It simply gives them the option if both parties believe such a sale is in their mutual best interest.
 
Sales of this type already happen regularly within the Federal Government. The General Services Administration (GSA) regularly purchases large qualities of supplies and sells it to other agencies. The GSA can take advantage of economies of scale then sell to other agencies as their needs arise. Aside from benefiting from economies of scale, it allows each agency to stockpile less of its’ own product because it knows the government already has some of the product sitting on the shelves for them to purchase as their needs arise.
 
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Brooks and Schrier Introduce the SAFE Act to Improve our Strategic National Stockpile

WASHINGTON, DC – On April 17, Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA08) introduced H.R. 6517, the Stockpiling for America’s Future Endeavors (SAFE) Act to improve our nation’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

“In the beginning of this unprecedented pandemic, as our country faced a critical shortage of personal protective equipment to keep citizens save from the virus, many Hoosier nonprofits and businesses stepped up to donate this equipment but unfortunately had no direct way to donate these crucial supplies to the national stockpile,” said Brooks. “This bipartisan legislation is the commonsense solution to make our Strategic National Stockpile work better by preventing future shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies. The SAFE Act will allow the Strategic National Stockpile to more quickly connect the manufacturers of product to our heroes on the frontlines who need these supplies the most.”

“The Strategic National Stockpile is meant to be a resource during a crisis. The size of this pandemic has shown that the SNS is not adequately stocked with enough equipment to keep up with state and national needs to protect frontline workers and keep our communities safe,” said Schrier. “In this interconnected world, it is more likely than not that we will face a pandemic again. This commonsense legislation will eliminate red tape and allow for donations to the SNS in addition to what Congress allocates, so our country is better prepared to act when the next emergency happens.”

BACKGROUND

The SAFE Act allows the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to accept gifts from companies and individuals. Periodically, the SNS is approached by companies with surplus product or private individuals who wish to make cash donations.

Under current law, the SNS cannot accept these gifts without going through a complex transaction with the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) and General Services Administration (GSA). In practice, very few of these donations are accepted because of this complexity.

This language would allow the Secretary of HHS to authorize these donations directly and place them into the stockpile for disbursement.

FEMA is currently accepting gifts on behalf of the SNS, but this arrangement will only last for the duration of the national emergency. Once the emergency ends, we will revert to the system where SNS cannot accept any gifts. 

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The CARES Act:

  • Payments to Americans
    • Many payments will be sent out automatically to individuals based on filed tax returns from 2019.
    • The payments would start phasing out for earners above those income thresholds and would not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
    • All adults with a valid Social Security number with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) will get a $1,200 ($2,400 for joint filers) "rebate" payment. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child.
    • Social Security dependent individuals do not need to file their taxes. 
    • For more information, visit my IRS COVID-19 Info Page
  • ​​Small Businesses
    • Mandated that Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grants be made available to businesses during the response to the Coronavirus Outbreak.
      • These loans must be applied to cover leave, maintain payroll, and pay debt obligations.
      • Business will be able to receive both EIDL funds and a Paycheck Protection loan in limited certain instances.
    • Establishes a Paycheck Protection Program which will provide $350 billion for full federally guaranteed loans covering 8 weeks of assistance to small businesses, independent contactors, 501(c)3 nonprofits, and others.
      • For businesses in need of a loan ranging in amount from $350,000 to $1 million, SBA Express Loans will be available. The application process for the SBA Express Loans will require less paperwork and documentation, allowing SBA to get the much-needed financial support to businesses quicker.
      • Program enrollees will also be eligible to have an automatic deferral of payments for a six-month period, during with the SBA will pay principal, interest, and fees on all SBA loan products.
      • Loans used to cover payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent and utilities can be forgiven.
    • For more information, visit my SBA COVID-19 Info Page.
  • Unemployment
    •  It expands unemployment benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others.
    • The bill provides additional benefits to each recipient of unemployment insurance for up to four months and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits after state benefits are no longer available. For people who were employed on March 1 and have lost their job due to coronavirus, the bill provides paid leave for them as well.
    • For more information, visit my State of Indiana COVID-19 Info Page
  • Exchange Stabilization Fund
    • Allocates $500 billion to what is called an Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF), a fund designed to serve as an emergency reserve fund that allows the Treasury Secretary the authority to distribute the funds to businesses of all sizes and places numerous requirements on how they can be used.
      • $46 billion has been set aside to assist airlines and other businesses critical to the economic strength and defense capabilities of the nation.
      • These funds are designed to ensure the liquidity of our financial institutions and keep to credit flowing within the business sector.
  • K-12 Schools
    • Provides the Secretary of Education the additional waiver authority needed to allow school districts around the country can continue to address the needs of all students during this challenging time.
    • Allows the Administration to waive requirements that states must conduct mandatory testing in math, reading, and science.
    • Schools will also be given increased flexibility in how they use block grant funding, allowing them the funds to be used to technology and other costs related to Coronavirus recovery.
  • Higher Education
    • College students will be eligible to receive direct financial relief by pausing their monthly student loan payments for up to 6 months.
    • Additionally, the bill will pause collections on most federal student loans through September 20, 2020.
    • The bill mandates that students will not be penalized for the mid-semester interruption, and that they will be given the ability to continue class in the future without penalty.
    • Students will also not be liable financially for aid distributed to them when the Coronavirus response measures forced them to drop-out mid-term.
  • Food Assistance
    • Provides $16 billion in additional funding to support SNAP beneficiaries.
    • Provides $9 billion for child nutrition programs.
  • Housing
    • Prioritizes assistance for low-income households with $12.4 billion in new funding for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) programs.
    • Additionally, the CARES Act provides much needed protection to both homeowners and renters from foreclosure and evictions during this outbreak.
  • Financial Services
    • The CARES Act has been carefully created to extend regulatory relief to banks and credit unions, in order to keep them lending and serving American consumers and businesses. These measures will provide additional support for consumers with mortgages, student, and auto loans, and to small businesses who need loans to pay their employees.
    • Suspends the Troubled Debt Restructuring classifications on loans, allowing credit unions, and community banks to further work to help their borrowers on loan modifications for outstanding loans.
  • Healthcare
    • Requires the FDA to expedite the approval process for relevant drugs during the ongoing national emergency.
    • Requires insurers to cover COVID-19 vaccines.
    • $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers to help them provide needed care during the pandemic.
    • Provides $27 billion for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response to develop services, vaccines, technologies, and health infrastructure to continue to combat the Pandemic and future infectious diseases.
    • Community health center will receive $1.32 billion in supplemental funding.
    • Includes $200 million for FCC telehealth services and greatly expands coverage for telehealth services.
  • Medicare
    • Temporarily lifts Medicare sequester cuts to hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, home health, and other care.
    • Increases Medicare payments to hospitals for treating a patient admitted for COVID-19.
  • Pandemic Response
    • I was able to get a provision included in the bill that will help ensure the Strategic National Stockpile will be better able to track the U.S. medical supply chain and determine how to avoid future shortages or vulnerabilities in critical medical equipment.

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: 

  • ​On March 18, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act adopted by the House last week which President Trump signed the bill into law. This bipartisan legislation provides additional emergency funding to respond to the Coronavirus:
    • ​​Free testing for diagnosing Coronavirus
    • Food Assistance
      • This legislation includes more than $1 billion to ensure food assistance programs will be able to provide aid to families in the midst of the pandemic.
      • Ensure federal programs that provide meals to low income students will still be able to provide students food even if schools are close.
    • Sick Leave
      • Requires that businesses with fewer than 500 employees provide 14 days of paid sick leave to individuals with the virus.
      • Entitles employees up to 3 months of paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for virus related issues.

 

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act: 

  • I joined my colleagues in passing an emergency coronavirus funding package.  President Trump signed the $8.3 billion measure into law on March 6, 2020, that will allocate:
    • $4 billion to make diagnostics tests more available 
    • $2.2 billion for the CDC; including $1 billion for state and local response
    • $20 million for disaster assistance loans for small businesses 
    • $1.25 billion for State Department and USAID
  • To learn more about this bill, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6074