Shaheen, Hassan Join Baldwin on NDAA Amendment to Increase National Production of Testing Supplies and PPE as COVID-19 Cases Rise

July 02, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and a group of their colleagues to introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 (NDAA) that would require President Trump to unlock the full authority and power of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to scale up nationwide production of the testing supplies, personal protective equipment and medical equipment needed at the local level to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The NDAA is currently being considered by the Senate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps and vulnerabilities in our domestic supply chain that have been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s failure to respond quickly and decisively,” said Senator Shaheen. “Acquisition and distribution of PPE and testing supplies have been encumbered by the administration’s poor handling of this emergency, so it is critical for Congress to act now so we’re prepared for the duration of this crisis and any that follow. Too many lives have already been lost to this deadly virus – we need to take every measure possible to keep people safe and healthy and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

“The administration has yet to fully utilize its powers under the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of critically needed medical supplies and personal protection equipment – even as we see a surge of COVID-19 cases in communities across the country,” said Senator Hassan. “If the President will not invoke the Defense Production Act to get these resources where they are needed, then Congress must act to require it. I am glad to be introducing this amendment to require the administration to use its powers to get testing supplies, personal protective equipment, and medical equipment to those on the front lines of this crisis.”

The amendment is also cosponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Text of the amendment is available here.

Shaheen and Hassan have fought to secure urgently needed personal protective equipment for New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen previously introduced the Homeland Procurement Reform Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to increase the amount of PPE it procures from American companies. This bill has bipartisan support and would ensure that the domestic supply chain for PPE is capable of supplying the critical items that FEMA and other federal agencies need during a national emergency.

In April, Shaheen and Hassan introduced legislation that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by federalizing and adding critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. The Senators also called on the administration to fully utilize the DPA to ensure the VA has the supplies and equipment needed to protect veterans from COVID-19. With the state’s congressional delegation, they have sent multiple letters to the Trump administration requesting rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address coronavirus cases the state is experiencing. In addition, Shaheen sent a letter pressing the administration for information on the distribution of critical medical supplies, including personal protective equipment. Shaheen and Hassan repeatedly called for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act and introduced legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the DPA.

The Senators have also worked to ensure the domestic supply chain has the means and resources needed to quickly build and distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine. In April, they called on the administration to immediately address concerns regarding the domestic supply chain for hypodermic needles and syringes needed to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to the nation once one has been developed. In May, Shaheen followed up by urging the administration to release a detailed strategy that provides this vaccine free of charge to all Americans.