July 20, 2020

Luján Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul National Stockpile, Increase Production of Lifesaving Medical Supplies

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, cosponsored bipartisan legislation to boost domestic manufacturing of medical supplies critical to the fight against COVID-19 and to make much-needed improvements to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). Introduced by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week with unanimous support from Luján and the other members of the committee.

“At the start of America’s public health emergency, states turned to the federal government for support in meeting the demand for personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies. Our state received only a fraction of its request and little information about when it would receive more, forcing New Mexico to compete with other states for limited supplies.

“As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, our hospitals and health care workers are once again facing dangerous shortages of medical supplies. In the absence of presidential leadership, Congress must act to protect Americans on the front lines of the pandemic. This bipartisan bill would help increase transparency and ensure that the National Stockpile has the supplies states and localities need during this and future emergencies.”

In March, Congressman Luján joined New Mexico’s congressional delegation in calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to meet the state’s full request for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective gloves and masks, for health care providers responding to COVID-19.

BACKGROUND:

Specifically, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act would:

  • Authorize the sale of SNS products to other federal agencies as they approach expiration;
  • Require HHS to ensure SNS supplies are in good working condition;
  • Improve domestic product availability for the SNS through domestic production of PPE and partnering with industry to replenish stocks; 
  • Require the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a report to Congress on all state, local, Tribal, and territorial requests for supplies during the COVID-19 emergency and whether requests were fulfilled;
  • Require ASPR and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to develop and implement a more transparent process for the distribution of supplies to states; 
  • Create a pilot program for state stockpiles;
  • Increase the annual authorization level for the SNS from $610 million to $705 million.