Today, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) praised the unanimous, bipartisan House passage of the bipartisan Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act. Rep. Cisneros joined his Republican and Democratic House colleagues to introduce this legislative package, which would reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies the country needs to fight COVID-19 by making much-needed improvements and updates to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), and boosting domestic manufacturing of those supplies here in America.
“Throughout this pandemic, our frontline workers weren’t getting the PPE they needed, and states had to outbid each other for ventilators and medical equipment. We can’t be in that position again, especially as we’re entering flu season,” said Rep. Cisneros. “I’m grateful the House passed our bipartisan bill to replenish and strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile while boosting domestic manufacturing of critical supplies. This legislation will help ensure we meet the challenges of our current pandemic and are well equipped to deal with future crises.”
The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act was introduced on July 15th by Reps. Cisneros, Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), Susan Brooks (R-IN-05), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Earl L. Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), David McKinley (R-WV-01), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-02), Darren Soto (D-FL-09), Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), Richard Hudson (R-NC-08), Kim Schrier (D-WA-08), Greg Gianforte (R-MT-At-Large), Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), Michael Burgess (R-TX-26), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Brain Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-03).
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ventilators and other supplies to fight the pandemic, failing to fulfill requests for supplies or providing expired our outdated items.
The legislation introduced today will, if enacted:
- 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 the 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.
On May 14th, Rep. Cisneros led a letter with 25 Republican and Democratic colleagues to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of Defense urging them to support small businesses producing personal protective equipment (PPE) and replenish the Strategic National Stockpile.
This article was released by the Office of Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.