Rep. Tom Malinowski introduced legislation to ensure the nation’s reserve of medical supplies is well stocked in the future.
According to Malinowski’s office, the coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the dire inadequacies the nation faces when it comes to the current national stockpile. When states started turning to their reserve supplies, many found the equipment was out of date, expired, or broken. And the government had limited ability to replenish the supply.
The new legislation authored by Malinowski aims to fix these problems and help the government be better prepared if the U.S ever experiences a similar crisis.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed glaring weaknesses in our country’s pandemic response preparedness, including our failure to maintain a sufficient national PPE stockpile,” said Malinowski in a statement. “This bill will ensure that Congress and the public are told at the start of each year exactly what is necessary to keep a ready stockpile and that the government is held accountable to fund it.”
Malinowski’s Providing Protective Equipment Act would require the secretary of the Health and Human Services to determine the minimum level of supplies needed to adequately respond to a pandemic. It would also require the secretary to submit their estimate to Congress on a yearly basis. And it would be independent of the president’s annual budget request to Congress.
The legislation would also require the secretary to submit a request to the president to use the Defense Protection Act to secure supplies if the secretary is unable to acquire all necessary items. It would roll any unused funds from previous years into the next year’s budget, which could be used in a national emergency.
Malinowski worked alongside Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut to introduce the legislation. DeLauro noted in a statement that the widespread shortage of medical supplies should never have happened.
“By ensuring Congress has proper information on the Strategic National Stockpile from the Executive Branch and automatically requiring HHS to request invoking the Defense Production Act when supplies are needed, the PPE Act can ensure our Strategic National Stockpile is always well-stocked,” she said in a statement.