TO THE HOUSE FLOOR: Brooks’ and Slotkin’s Bipartisan Package to Overhaul National Stockpile, Make More Critical Supplies Available in America
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI08) led a group of bipartisan lawmakers in introducing the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously today. This major bipartisan package the House will consider will make substantial improvements to our nation’s Strategic National Stockpile while reducing America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies. These changes are critical, particularly in light of the dramatic depletion of our Stockpile as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
"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,” Brooks said. “Members of Congress have communicated directly with stakeholders involved in the stockpile to find ways to increase its effectiveness and sustainability. 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.
“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.”
"Our frontline medical providers have been in combat against a deadly virus without the armor they need to protect themselves,” Slotkin said. “When Michigan and other states 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. We should never again be dependent on foreign suppliers for equipment we need to keep Americans safe in a crisis."
"It’s simple: this bipartisan package will ensure more critical medical supplies are made here in America,” Slotkin continued. “It will reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers by boosting domestic production of critical supplies. It will improve our ability to protect our frontline workers, to respond to this and future public health crises. It will strengthen maintenance and oversight of the stockpile, and give us a comprehensive account of what states have asked for and what they received from the stockpile. And it will do so in a bipartisan fashion, because this virus doesn’t pay attention to party politics and neither should we."
The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act combines several bipartisan bills previously introduced to spur domestic manufacturing and strengthen the stockpile. The Stockpile is a repository of critical supplies and medicines maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to respond to public health emergencies. While originally designed to stockpile medical countermeasures in response to terrorist threats, the stockpile’s role has shifted over the last two decades. When the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading in the United States, the Stockpile was forced to provide masks, gloves, and other PPE in quantities heretofore unanticipated, and in ways never intended by its designers. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has shone a light on the limitations of this system, and taught us that we need to be taking a much broader approach to how we run our stockpile.
The legislation if enacted will:
Make sure items in the stockpile are in good working order and ready to use if and when a crisis hits. Will requiring regular maintenance on all items kept in the stockpile.
Increase manufacturing of critical supplies in America by improving the SNS’ supply chains for some of the most important PPE and countermeasure products by allowing the Stockpile to partner directly with manufacturers to build domestic production capacity.
Improve stockpile financial security by expanding the authority of the stockpile to sell items out of its inventory to other federal agencies. This authority will allow the SNS to make more efficient use of the funding Congress provides, while simultaneously allowing it to keep old and expiring items off its shelves.
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 and will establish transparent processes for distribution of goods from the stockpile moving forward.
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.