Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
We are in a crisis in America. Beyond the public health crisis and economic downturn, COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in our national emergency supply chain. Medical professionals are going to work without facemasks. Nursing home workers are wearing trash bags to treat patients instead of medical gowns. The national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) has allowed COVID-19 to spread across the country. Congress needs to act to fix our supply chain and reestablish our manufacturing sector to make sure in any future crises our frontline workers have the equipment they need to protect themselves.
As we have seen from the jumbled effort to respond to COVID-19, the fight to stop the next global pandemic starts now. Our bipartisan Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act would be a critical first step to preparing our country. By requiring the government to purchase American-made emergency equipment by 2025 and establishing a 9-11 style blue-ribbon commission to look into the lessons learned from this crisis, we can begin to heal and build the infrastructure necessary to protect against future pandemics.
There are three words that universally signify quality, craftsmanship, and integrity: Made in America. Unfortunately, those three words have become less common in everyday goods; from the clothes we wear to the beef we eat. As manufacturers went overseas seeking cheap labor, America relinquished not just those jobs, but, less obviously, the supply chain and manufacturing infrastructure to produce critical goods. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this break in the supply chain has been exposed, creating the situation we are in today, and allowing this virus to take root in our communities.
Our legislation aims to strengthen the manufacturing industry and bolster the supply chain of emergency resources for future crises. Additionally, the bill makes sure America is better prepared for future national emergencies. By mandating that essential products, such as medical, pharmaceutical, and emergency preparedness gear, purchased by our government agencies are made in America, we can protect our supply chain and create good-paying, long-lasting jobs at the same time.
We are seeing it now: an overseas-oriented supply chain for essential products creates an over-reliance on adversaries such as China. In good times, and in bad, America should not have to rely on adversaries for crucial items such as PPE. We cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations. We must rebuild our health care and public safety supply chain now. Our response to the tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was “Never Again.” We must have the same response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our legislation creates a National Commission on United States Preparedness for National Emergencies. This Commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, will look into the government and private sector response to COVID-19. From this Commission, we will learn where our response succeeded, where it failed, and the steps we need to take to make sure this never happens again.
As fighters for American manufacturing, we have seen firsthand that the workers in our factories make quality products and have stepped up to the plate to do more than their fair share during this crisis. But we should not have to scramble for vital equipment like PPE. President Trump agrees with us, and we are hopeful the administration will be supportive of our bill to reduce our reliance on predatory nations, such as China, and create good-paying American jobs along the way.
In a broken Washington, few things unite Democrats and Republicans. But as Americans, we can all agree that we need to do everything we can to make sure we are prepared for the next global emergency. And that starts now. Passing the Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act is a small, but critical, step in a long journey to recovery and prevention.