WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today joined forty-five Senate Democratic colleagues in announcing 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 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. 46 Senate Democrats support this legislation, as well as AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers. Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) will introduce the House companion of this legislation.
“Strong, transparent federal coordination is critical to make sure that medical supplies are getting to the areas of greatest need, including Maryland. Without it, governors are vulnerable to price gauging as they compete against each other on the open market,” said Senator Cardin. “We have continually called for the president to make better use of the Defense Production Act (DPA), which is explicitly designed to deal with situations like this. This legislation would require the President to make full usage of that power through an equitable and transparent process for allocating resources.”
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.