Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, issued the following statement regarding the House’s passage of the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act. Introduced by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and cosponsored by Luján, this bipartisan legislation would improve the United States’ Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), boost domestic manufacturing of critical personal protective equipment (PPE), and increase transparency around the fulfillment of states’ SNS requests.
In March, Luján and the New Mexico congressional delegation wrote to the Secretary of Health and Human Services after the state initially received only 25 percent of the PPE it had requested from the SNS, with no explanation of how state requests were being prioritized or when New Mexico would receive more.
“As America braces for a second wave of COVID-19, Congress must act to provide our hospitals and frontline health care workers with the personal protective equipment they need to keep themselves and their patients safe,” said Luján. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will prevent the dangerous medical supply shortages that our country experienced at the onset of the pandemic and help save lives. I hope the Senate will follow the House’s example and pass this bill as soon as possible.”
Specifically, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act would:
- Authorize the sale of SNS products to other federal agencies as they approach expiration;
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure SNS supplies are in good working condition;
- Improve domestic product availability for the SNS through domestic production of PPE and partnering with industry to replenish stocks;
- Require the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a report to Congress on all state, local, Tribal, and territorial requests for supplies during the COVID-19 emergency and whether requests were fulfilled;
- Require ASPR and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to develop and implement a more transparent process for the distribution of supplies to states;
- Create a pilot program for state stockpiles; and
- Increase the annual authorization level for the SNS from $610 million to $705 million.