Durbin, Duckworth Join Senate Democrats To Announce Bill To Increase National Production Of Medical Supply Chain

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today to announce legislation that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by increasing production and adding oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the President to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process. 

“As we respond to COVID-19, we have to improve our supply chain so states can get the testing supplies, PPE, and other medical equipment they need to keep Americans safe and prepared in the weeks and months ahead.  Right now, states have to fend for themselves, compete with each other on prices, and battle suppliers who are taking advantage of this dire situation by price gouging critical materials.  It’s long past time for the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to better coordinate the medical supply chain and vastly increase production of desperately needed equipment, Durbin said.

“Donald Trump’s chaotic response to COVID-19 has failed to prevent shortages of the testing supplies, personal protective equipment and other medical equipment that our frontline healthcare providers rely on to take care of patients and keep themselves safe,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to help introduce this legislation that would fully utilize the Defense Production Act to boost production of this life-saving equipment and increase transparency over its distribution, and I hope it is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.”

The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would:

  • Require publicly reported national assessments on a weekly basis to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements.
    • These reports will also identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fill orders, stockpiles that can be refurbished or repaired, manufacturers that could expand production into PPE and medical supplies, and supplies and equipment that can be redistributed to new hotspots. 
  • These reports would also include direct outreach with essential employees and health care workers.
  • Establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery.
  • The Executive Officer will have all the authorities available under the DPA.
  • The Executive Officer is required to issue major purchase orders under DPA for supplies identified in the assessments, oversee all distribution of critical medical supplies, and make recommendations to the President on increasing national production capacity of supplies.
  • The Executive Officer will be a civilian position appointed by the Secretary of the Defense and will be authorized additional uniformed and DOD civilian personnel in supporting roles.
    • The Executive Officer will ensure that all unused supplies in excess of need will be turned over to the Strategic National Stockpile.
    • The Executive Officer will terminate after confirming to Congress that all State and territorial medical supply needs have been met and national stockpiles have been replenished.
  • Increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies and equipment.
    • The Executive Officer is required to publicly post all states’ requests for assistance, metrics and criteria for amount and destination of distribution, metrics for determining hotspots and areas of future concern, and production and procurement benchmarks.
  • Require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing.
  • Establish a comprehensive plan to address necessary supply chain issues in order to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Require a GAO report to identify lessons learned and make recommendations on future pandemic response.
  • Establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act.

Forty-six Senate Democrats support this legislation, as well as AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers.

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

The full bill text is available here.