Slotkin Co-Leads Legislation to Mobilize Federal Response to Testing, Medical Supplies under the DPA
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives, Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Jason Crow (CO-06), Tim Ryan (OH-13), and Katie Porter (CA-45) announced legislation to require the president to utilize the full power of the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is the House companion to the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act introduced today in the Senate. In addition to providing a framework for federalizing the pandemic response, the bill provides critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for medical supplies and equipment.
"On the heels of fighting to get protective equipment to our frontline medical workers, states like Michigan must now scramble to build the testing capacity we need to safely reopen sectors of our economy,” Rep Slotkin said. “There is a role for the Administration to play in accelerating the flow of those supplies –– and making sure they get to areas of greatest need. I would not ordinarily advocate for legislation telling the executive branch how to manage a crisis, but I cannot ignore the outcry from my district and my state. We need federal action now, and if the President will not use his authorities, I will do everything I can to push him to act."
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Slotkin has advocated for a single federal “medical supply czar” to oversee acquisition and logistics at the federal level, and minimize competition among the states for supplies -- a policy reflected in this bill, which establishes an executive officer to perform that coordination function.
"This is the public health crisis of our generation and our response must meet the moment. Our health care workers in Colorado and across the country cannot afford a piecemeal approach that fails to provide medical supplies to those most in need and causes states to compete against each other for life-saving equipment,” said Rep. Crow. “In failing to provide a unified and cohesive response, the White House has left states scrambling in a zero-sum game where there are no winners. This is a failure of leadership by President Trump and it is incumbent upon Congress to step in and provide the desperately needed action to get supplies to our health care workers."
"Our first responders and heath care workers are putting their lives on the line to protect our communities. We need to do our part and get them the supplies they need to do their jobs and keep themselves and their patients safe. We are already seeing shortages of vital medical supplies in communities across the country, which will only grow the longer we wait. This legislation will immediately increase production of vital resources like testing materials, masks, gloves, surgical gowns, and ventilators. We need to act now,” said Rep. Tim Ryan.
"The time for delay is long gone; we needed to have a plan to acquire medical supplies months ago,” Rep. Porter said. “I’ve heard from frontline workers in Orange County throughout this crisis that they don’t have the personal protective equipment they need. If President Trump won’t step up to protect our workers, Congress has a duty to hold him to account."
- Require publicly reported national assessments on a weekly basis to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements.
- These reports will also identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fill orders, stockpiles that can be refurbished or repaired, manufacturers that could expand production into PPE and medical supplies, and supplies and equipment that can be redistributed to new hotspots.
- These reports would also include direct outreach with essential employees and healthcare workers.
- Establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery.
- The Executive Officer will have all the authorities available under the DPA.
- The Executive Officer is required to issue major purchase orders under DPA for supplies identified in the assessments, oversee all distribution of critical medical supplies, and make recommendations to the President on increasing national production capacity of supplies.
- The Executive Officer will be a civilian position appointed by the Secretary of the Defense and will be authorized additional uniformed and DOD civilian personnel in supporting roles.
- The Executive Officer will ensure that all unused supplies in excess of need will be turned over to the Strategic National Stockpile.
- The Executive Officer will terminate after confirming to Congress that all State and territorial medical supply needs have been met and national stockpiles have been replenished.
- Increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies and equipment.
- The Executive Officer is required to publicly post all states’ requests for assistance, metrics and criteria for amount and destination of distribution, metrics for determining hotspots and areas of future concern, and production and procurement benchmarks.
- Require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing.
- Establish a comprehensive plan to address necessary supply chain issues in order to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Require a GAO report to identify lessons learned and make recommendations on future pandemic response.
- Establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act.
Originally enacted in 1950 at the outset of the Korean War when the U.S. was in need of wartime supplies, the Defense Production Act (DPA) provides the president with a broad set of authorities to mobilize production of supplies needed to protect U.S. national security and ensure the health and safety of Americans.