March 23, 2020

Harris, Colleagues Announce Legislation to Scale Up Made in America Production of Medical Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment For Hospitals and Health Care Workers

Bill will Require the Full Use of Defense Production Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Monday joined Senator Tammy Baldwin in announcing new legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the Defense Production Act (DPA), to combat the spread of coronavirus. Despite multiple announcements, President Donald Trump has not utilized the federal government’s entire authority under DPA, so the legislation would require the President to do so in order to quickly produce and ensure access to supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic.

“The shortage of medical supplies like masks and ventilators in hospitals in California and across the nation is unacceptable. It’s past time the president ensures health care workers have the supplies and resources they need to protect themselves and combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Harris. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in this critical legislation that will expedite production of medical equipment to those on the frontlines. This will literally save lives.” 

Specifically, this legislation will:

  • Immediately require a major purchase order for 300 million N95 masks, which will allow industry to begin scaling up production of masks and other PPE materials. 
  • Require the National Response Coordination Center to conduct a national assessment on current medical supply needs and a follow up major purchase order to fulfill the needs identified in the assessment. 
  • Waive restrictions on dollar limitations for orders executed under DPA and a 30 day waiting period for orders that exceed $50 million.
  • Authorize increased funding for DPA accounts that are being considered for supplemental COVID-19 spending packages.

The full bill text is available here.