Carper, Coons, Democratic Colleagues Announce Legislation to Strengthen Medical Supply Chain, Increase National Production and Create an Equitable and Transparent Process for Delivery of Necessary COVID-19 Supplies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both-Del.) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), as well as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, to announce legislation that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by requiring strong coordinate at the federal level, 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. 

44 other 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.

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began plaguing our communities, I have urged President Trump to use his full authorities under the Defense Production Act to adequately address supply shortages that continue to put our health care workers and their patients at heightened risk. That has still not happened,” said Senator Carper. “It’s why, today, I am proud to join Senators Murphy and Baldwin to introduce the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act, a bill that would require the President to exercise those authorities to immediately address the shortage of critical testing, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies. It is past time for the Trump Administration to take all necessary measures to respond to this pandemic with the urgency it demands. If Senator McConnell wants the Senate to reconvene next week, legislation, like this, to address the urgent needs of those on the front lines should be what we are working on.”

“The lack of a clear, coordinated national supply chain strategy to help frontline health care workers respond to this pandemic is creating chaos and likely costing lives,” said Senator Coons.  “Hospitals and health care systems and even states and cities are competing with one another to get basic supplies to treat patients and contain the outbreak – that’s unacceptable. The federal government should lead a clear, nationwide strategy to acquire and distribute the life-saving medical equipment that is so desperately needed in communities across the country.”

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.

o    Establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery.

o    The Executive Officer will have all the authorities available under the DPA.

o    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.

o    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.

The full bill text is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.