Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Their Plan to Strengthen the Supply of Medical Equipment

By Monique Mansfield
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). | File Photo

New bill would require President Trump to use the DPA to mobilize a federal response.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) joined Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday in announcing new legislation that would federalize medical supply chains, increase production, and establish “an equitable and transparent” process for delivering critical supplies to those on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.

Known as The Medical Supply and Transparency Delivery Act, the bill aims to add oversight and transparency to the supply chain for medical supplies and equipment. It also would require President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to respond to the pandemic.

Additionally, it would require that publicly reported national assessments are submitted weekly, establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery, establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act, increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies, and more.

The bill has the support of 46 Senate Democrats, and companion legislation is expected to be introduced by Democrats in the House. Although the bill is largely a partisan exercise at this point – the sponsors strongly criticize Trump in their press release, for example – it also is aiming to address some very real issues.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a massive shortage in critically needed medical supplies, with hospitals and other facilities unable to find everything from face masks to medicine to ventilators and respirators. 

As AAM President Scott Paul noted in a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, while some American manufacturers stepped up to make things like face masks and ventilators, America’s dependence on imports meant it was unable to secure enough of the things it needed in time. It also meant that the country was unable to quickly ramp up enough production quickly enough to fill the gaps

That cost lives.


Now Democrats in both chambers have unveiled a proposal for strengthening America’s critical manufacturing and getting supplies to the folks on the frontlines of this crisis… while calling on President Trump and Congressional Republicans to get to work. 

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a nonpartisan organization, so we aren’t going to weigh in on the congressional debate here. It’s also worth pointing out that there have been bipartisan efforts to take on this problem, so it’s clearly a concern that folks on both sides of the aisle share.

What is abundantly clear is that it is time for Congress and the White House to work together to prioritize policy that will bring back critical medical supply manufacturing and supply chains, ensuring that the United States is better positioned to respond to any future crisis.

Click here to read the full bill text.