WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday announced the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, legislation to force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. §§4501 et seq.) and federalize the manufacturing and distribution of scarce in-demand medical supplies in order to cure the growing inefficiencies of 50 states and thousands of hospitals competing against each other for medical supplies. The Trump administration has told the American people on several occasions that they have already begun this process but there has been no meaningful action taken—leaving hospital and health care workers on the front lines without the proper gear, and fighting against each other in a bidding war for supplies.
“The current system, in which states and hospitals are competing against each other for scarce equipment, is both unnecessary and barbaric. Enough is enough. It’s time to centralize the critical medical supply chain and distribution during this public health crisis,” said Murphy. “The Defense Production Act allows the president to require U.S. manufacturers to pivot production towards medical equipment, and our legislation requires him to actually do this and then take the additional step to direct the distribution of the gear, so that it ends up in the places of true need.”
“Our health care workers need help now. Our bill will immediately ramp up production of medical supplies, including masks, gloves, and ventilators so that our health care workers have the equipment they need to protect and care for themselves and their patients,” said Schatz.
The Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act would require the president to use authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to require emergency production of medical equipment to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the bill would force President Trump to identify private sector capacity to help nothing less than 500,000,000 N95 respirators; 200,000 medical ventilators; 20,000,000 face shields; 500,000,000 pairs of gloves; and 20,000,000 surgical gowns in addition to other medical equipment deemed necessary. The legislation would further require the administration to direct the distribution of these supplies, to end the unnecessary competition between states and health care institutions for these increasingly scarce resources. The Defense Production Act of 1950 confers upon the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industries in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for national defense.