Shaheen Raises the Importance of Domestic PPE Production With President TrumpMay 19, 2020
**In letter, Shaheen Raises DEKA Production Line Effort: “I know that companies in my state stand ready to work with the federal government and increase production of PPE” **
**Shaheen calls for long-term federal funding and purchase orders for domestic manufacturers of PPE**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) urged President Trump to immediately take action to increase the long-term domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States. Shaheen’s letter comes as industry partners across the nation and in New Hampshire, including DEKA Research and Development Corporation (DEKA), are working to ramp up production of PPE, but face challenges that necessitate federal resources and direction to rectify.
As a result of overwhelming demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers, first responders and essential employees on the frontlines of this public health emergency have faced critical shortages of masks, N95 respirators, gowns, gloves and other critical supplies needed to protect themselves and others from the spread of the disease. In her letter to the President, Shaheen urged the administration to tap into the industrial potential of American manufacturers to rapidly increase domestic PPE production now and in the long-term.
Shaheen highlighted the consequences of the nation’s present inability to produce large quantities of PPE, writing, “States, localities, hospitals and other organizations seeking supplies have been forced to compete for PPE entering the country from abroad. Often times, these entities have resorted to private individuals to donate PPE and coordinate shipments from abroad. Despite the best efforts of the career civil servants at our federal agencies, the supply of PPE that the federal government has on hand is woefully inadequate to address the needs of our states. Under existing authorities, federal agencies within your control have the ability to invest in and contract with American companies absent the use of emergency powers available under the Defense Production Act.”
Shaheen noted the efforts of companies in New Hampshire to ramp up supply of PPE, including DEKA, which is working with its partners to create and expand production lines for face masks. However, she underscored how domestic companies need resources and direction from the federal government to repurpose existing infrastructure or completely alter their business model and lines of production. She wrote, “I urge you to direct the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to work with companies like DEKA and provide them with the immediate and long-term funding and purchase orders they need to increase domestic PPE production.”
Shaheen continued by encouraging the administration to support Congressional proposals to invest in the nation’s domestic supply chain for PPE and increase the percentage of PPE that the federal government buys from American companies, which would stimulate the economy, create jobs and ensure PPE and other critical supplies are available in time of need. She concluded, “We should also take action now to ensure that the American supply chain for these essential supplies remains strong well into the future. Rebuilding the domestic supply chain for PPE must be a priority as we seek to improve the nation’s health, security and economic well-being.”
The letter can be read in full here.
Shaheen has led efforts 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. That legislation was designed to 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 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. Shaheen called on the administration to fully utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ensure the VA has the supplies and equipment needed to protect veterans from COVID-19. With the state’s congressional delegation, Shaheen has 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. Senator Shaheen repeatedly called for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act and introduced legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the DPA.
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