Pandemic Preparedness Bill to Boost U.S.-Made Stockpile Advances


July 20, 2021 5:02 pm

House lawmakers advanced a bill aimed at ending shortages in domestic personal protective equipment supply chains to prepare for future pandemics.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform approved H.R. 4470 by a unanimous vote Tuesday. Its next stop is the House floor.

The Covid-19 pandemic sent a shock through global supply chains of personal protective equipment, exposing shortages of N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile.

“We all know we’re going to have another pandemic at some point,” said Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

“As we enter a post-pandemic world, it is essential that we learn from the trauma of the coronavirus crisis and what it taught us about our national vulnerabilities,” Maloney said. One of those vulnerabilities was the failure of supply chains, which led to shortages of medical supplies and personal protective equipment “when we needed it the most,” she said.

The bill would create stockpile requirements and incentives for domestic manufacturers of personal protective equipment to ensure the U.S. is prepared for future public health emergencies.

It would require that all personal protective equipment in the stockpile be produced in the U.S., unless an item cannot be produced to meet the U.S.’s demand for quality and quantity. The intent is to lessen U.S. reliance on other countries’ ability, and willingness, to trade their supplies.

The bill would also provide a 20% tax credit to producers of personal protective equipment that qualifies for inclusion in the stockpile. The credit would support manufacturers and “put Americans to work building the skills and materials we need to sustain us when our nation is hit with the unthinkable,” Maloney said.

The bill is one of a series of congressional efforts to ensure the U.S. is better prepared for the next pandemic. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) plan to work together to introduce a bill about lessons learned from Covid-19. Murray and Burr earlier crafted legislation to update the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which was enacted in 2006 to prepare for public health emergencies. They are also working on workforce training solutions in the wake of Covid-19.

Murray introduced S. 674 March 10, which would support public health infrastructure. She has advocated for boosting public health funding by $4.5 billion a year and called for revitalizing local and state health departments.

At the House markup, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) asked Maloney about the current inventory of the Strategic National Stockpile. Maloney said she was unsure and emphasized that domestic production is important even when supplies are high.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) supported the bill, but said “it’s simply not enough.” He encouraged lawmakers to “take affirmative steps to fully investigate the origins of Covid-19.”