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Friday, September 24th, 2021

Senate Democrats introduce bill to set framework for federal COVID-19 response

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Senate Democrats introduced legislation that lays out a framework for a coordinated federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process.

Specifically, the bill would require publicly reported national assessments weekly to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements. It would also establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery. The Executive Officer would have all the authorities available under the DPA.

Further, it would require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing and establishing a plan to address fundamental supply chain issues to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). It is endorsed by 44 Senate Democrats as well as AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers.

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began plaguing our communities, I have urged President Trump to use his full authorities under the Defense Production Act to adequately address supply shortages that continue to put our health care workers and their patients at heightened risk. That has still not happened,” Carper said. “It’s why, today, I am proud to join Senators Murphy and Baldwin to introduce the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act, a bill that would require the President to exercise those authorities to immediately address the shortage of critical testing, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies. It is past time for the Trump Administration to take all necessary measures to respond to this pandemic with the urgency it demands. If Senator McConnell wants the Senate to reconvene next week, legislation, like this, to address the urgent needs of those on the front lines should be what we are working on.”

Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Tim Ryan (D-OH) will introduce companion legislation in the House.

“The lack of a clear, coordinated national supply chain strategy to help frontline health care workers respond to this pandemic is creating chaos and likely costing lives,” Coons said. “Hospitals and health care systems and even states and cities are competing with one another to get basic supplies to treat patients and contain the outbreak – that’s unacceptable. The federal government should lead a clear, nationwide strategy to acquire and distribute the life-saving medical equipment that is so desperately needed in communities across the country.”