Brooks introduces two national stockpile bills
Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) introduced two bills Friday regarding the nation's Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Brooks and Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA08) introduced H.R. 6517, the Stockpiling for America’s Future Endeavors (SAFE) Act to improve the 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,” Brooks said. “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 SAFE Act allows the 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.
Brooks and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA18) introduced H.R. 6516, the Stockpile Inventory Modernization (SIM) Act of 2020 to allow the SNS to better serve Americans.
“Under current law, the Strategic National Stockpile is forced to throw away countless dollars of personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals per year as those items expire,” Brooks said. “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.”
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 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 GSA regularly purchases large quantities 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.