WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) this week announced bipartisan support for legislation he introduced last year with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) it procures from American companies. Murphy, Shaheen, and others introduced the legislation to ensure that the domestic supply chain for PPE is capable of supplying the critical items that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies need during a national emergency in which acquisition of these materials from abroad is interrupted. U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) are also co-sponsors of this legislation.
“It's totally unacceptable that frontline and essential workers have been forced to go without the PPE they need to stay safe. Let’s make sure that, going forward, our country can produce the PPE needed to confront a national emergency – and that it's made right here at home. I’m glad our legislation finally has bipartisan support so we can put more pressure on the federal government to buy American and fulfill PPE needs during this current crisis. It’s a no-brainer that should create more jobs and put more Americans to work during these unprecedented times,” said Murphy.
“The shortage in personal protective equipment during this pandemic underscores the urgent need to shore up our domestic supply chain in case of national emergencies,” said Shaheen. “The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed severe inadequacies in our PPE supply chain which need to be addressed immediately. My legislation would create jobs in the United States and help our nation plan ahead for emergencies rather than trying to play catchup once disaster strikes. I appreciate the bipartisan support from Senators Rounds and Moran on this legislation, and hope together with Senators Murphy, Hassan and Jones, we can garner additional bipartisan backing to get this bill through Congress.”
“DHS agents rely heavily on their equipment to carry out their duties, and reliance on foreign-made products could place them in harm’s way or jeopardize the mission,” said Moran. “This legislation would allow DHS access to the best, innovative personal protective gear and equipment that the American supply chain has to offer. Congress must continue to prioritize legislation that reduces our country’s reliance on foreign supply chains for critical national security components.”
“This pandemic has been a wake-up call that we need to significantly ramp up investment in our domestic health care supply chain and reduce our dependence on foreign companies,” said Jones. “Our legislation will help ensure that our men and women on the front lines have the supplies necessary to protect themselves and others. I’m glad this legislation is earning bipartisan support and I believe it is a critical step to better protect and prepare our nation for future crises.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that the United States needs to be prepared to mass produce personal protective equipment here at home,” said Hassan. “By requiring the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up domestic production of personal protective equipment, this bipartisan bill strengthens both our economy and public health—and helps to ensure that the U.S. is better prepared for future crises.”
The legislation would increase the items that DHS is required to procure domestically by placing certain restrictions on DHS procurement. These restrictions would narrow the field that DHS is able to procure from and drive DHS procurement towards predominately U.S. companies that are able to meet the standards outlined in the bill. Bolstering the domestic supply chain would help ensure American made products are prioritized and would also help alleviate shortages that could come during times of national emergencies, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, when obtaining necessary materials like PPE from abroad are interrupted by a crisis.
Full text of the legislation is available here.