Brooks, Upton help fast track new bill bolstering nation’s Strategic National Stockpile
U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Fred Upton (R-MI) on July 15 introduced bipartisan legislation to ramp up and expand America’s Strategic National Stockpile.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee the same day marked up and passed the measure, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act of 2020, H.R. 7574, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and 18 original cosponsors, including Reps. Brooks, Upton, Buddy Carter (R-GA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Michael Burgess (R-TX). The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
“Members of Congress have communicated directly with stakeholders involved in the stockpile to find ways to increase its effectiveness and sustainability,” Rep. Brooks said on Wednesday. “I am pleased this bipartisan legislation passed committee, and I urge all my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in favor of helping restore our nation’s faith in the Strategic National Stockpile in order to have a greater supply of medical countermeasures to protect more Americans in the future.”
“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. 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.”
If enacted, H.R. 7574 would provide increased resources for the stockpile by raising annual authorized funding from $610 million to $705 million for fiscal years 2020 through 2023. The additional funds would help make substantial improvements to the Strategic National Stockpile and reduce America’s dependence on foreign medical supplies, the lawmakers said.
“We, as a Congress and as a nation, need to dramatically increase our funding and support for public health preparedness initiatives like the Strategic National Stockpile,” continued Brooks. “Too often those long-term investments are the first things to be sidelined when budgets get tight. We cannot allow that to happen any longer, which is why I will continue to call on my colleagues to increase funding for these life-saving programs.”
Specifically, H.R. 7574 combines several bipartisan bills previously introduced to spur domestic manufacturing and strengthen the stockpile by requiring regular maintenance on all stored items in the stockpile; allowing the stockpile to partner directly with manufacturers to build domestic production capacity; and expanding the authority of the stockpile to sell items out of its inventory to other federal agencies, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers’ offices.
Additionally, the legislation would require the administration to report to Congress on all state, local, tribal and territorial requests for stockpile supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to each request, and would establish transparent processes for distribution of goods from the stockpile, the summary says.
Also under H.R. 7574, a pilot program would be established to support state efforts to expand and maintain their own stockpiles.
“This unprecedented pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of our Strategic National Stockpile and illustrated why we need to expand its mandate to include response to disasters with long-term, sustained demand like COVID-19,” said Rep. Brooks.