Bennet, Senate Democrats Announce Comprehensive Legislation to Increase, Coordinate, and Accelerate Production of Critical Supplies to Fight Pandemic

Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined Senate Democrats in cosponsoring legislation to federalize the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment and to add crucial new oversight and transparency. The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to use all available authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to mobilize a federal response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic through an equitable and transparent process. Forty-six Senate Democrats support this legislation, as well as AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our frontline health workers have called on the Trump Administration to develop a coordinated, national strategy to produce the supplies and equipment needed to keep them safe and protect the public. The absence of such a strategy has cost us dearly in both lives and livelihoods, and it has forced states and health care providers to outbid one another on the open market to secure critical supplies and equipment,” said Bennet. “If the administration will not act, Congress must force its hand. That is why I am cosponsoring legislation requiring the administration to increase, coordinate, and accelerate production of the medical supplies and equipment we need to fight the pandemic and protect our health care workforce and the American people.” 

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 Personal Protective Equipment (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 Department of Defense 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 Government Accountability Office report to identify lessons learned and make recommendations on future pandemic response.
  • Establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act. 
On March 22, Bennet led every Senate Democrat in calling on the Trump Administration to use its authorities under the Defense Production Act and to develop a national strategy to produce enough testing, supplies, and equipment to fight the pandemic. The following day, Bennet reiterated this call on the Senate floor. Bennet worked with U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to urge more funding relief for rural hospitals and providers, which the pandemic has hit especially hard. Bennet also worked with U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidance on the importance of wearing homemade, cloth masks in public to limit airborne transmission of coronavirus, which it did soon thereafter. To help address the shortage of critical supplies and equipment in Colorado, Bennet has worked to connect in-state bioscience companies and universities with regulators in Washington to secure approval for new testing and treatments. He has also engaged with major manufacturers and defense contractors with a substantial presence in Colorado to assist with ventilator production. Last week, Bennet also introduced legislation with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to create a new Health Force to recruit, train, and deploy hundreds of thousands of people to surge our public health response to the pandemic nationwide.