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February 27, 2024

Panetta among congress members urging use of Defense Production Act

Courtesy of Congressman Jimmy Panetta’s Office:

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) announced that he cosponsored the Frontline Health Care Workers Assistance Act.  

The legislation will require the administration to use the powers of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to direct the procurement of urgently needed resources such as masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, ventilators, and other supplies for medical professionals who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, ensure that prices of in-demand goods are not inflated, and organize distribution for medical supplies.  

Additionally, the Frontline Health Care Workers Assistance Act requires federal agencies to analyze the resource gap based on projected requirements of health care workers responding to COVID-19, differentiating it from other DPA efforts. Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06) and Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) are the lead sponsors of the bill.

Originally enacted in 1950 after the Korean War left the U.S. in need of wartime supplies, the Defense Production Act (DPA) provides the administration with a broad set of authorities to mobilize production on supplies needed to protect U.S. national security and ensure the health and safety of Americans. While the administration invoked the Defense Production Act on March 18, 2020, it has yet to be implemented. 

“In my numerous conversations with healthcare providers across the central coast of California this week, it was made clear to me that they are in need of personal protective equipment to protect themselves and patients currently being tested and treated,” said Congressman Panetta.  “People are looking to the federal government for leadership and we can continue to demonstrate this quality by implementing the Defense Powers Act so that all communities get the emergency medical equipment that they need to save lives and protect our vulnerable community members.”

“Our healthcare workers in Colorado and across the country are our nation’s soldiers on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Their work is paramount to protecting the health and safety of Americans but as we speak, they face crippling shortages that threaten their health and our national security as we combat this virus,” said Congressman Crow. “The Administration must invoke the Defense Powers Act and mobilize the creation of masks and other urgently needed medical equipment. I’m proud to lead on this bill to save lives and get our health care workers the supplies they need; we owe our soldiers in this fight nothing less.”

“I’ve heard firsthand from hospitals and healthcare workers in Orange County that the lack of masks is an urgent threat to their safety,” Congresswoman Porter said. “Our providers are working tirelessly to protect our community, and we need the Administration to step up and do its job to protect them in return. We have the power through the Defense Production Act to get this done, and I’m proud to lead on legislation that will implement this swiftly.”

The bill is a companion to Senator Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) legislation, S.3570, which has the backing of 18 Senators including Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. 

This bill specifically compels the President to: 

  • Purchase 300 million N95 respirator masks 24 hours after enactment at the highest priority level under DPA;
  • Call on FEMA, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services to provide a report within one week on medical supply needs to ensure the administration is using comprehensive data;
  • Direct additional purchase orders for equipment necessary for medical care personnel consistent with the analysis required by the interagency report at the highest priority under DPA to address future needs;
  • Identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fulfill purchase orders;
  • Identify government and privately-owned stockpiles that could be repaired or refurbished; and
  • Waives current limitations in the DPA, such as a dollar limit for orders and a 30-day waiting period for large orders, to ensure uninterrupted supply of equipment to health care workers and to replenish national stockpiles.

Additional co-sponsors of the bill include: Reps. Ro Khanna (CA-17), TJ Cox (CA-21), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Joe Neguse (CO-02), John Larson (CT-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Lois Frankel (FL-21), James McGovern (MA-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), and Mark Pocan (WI-02). 

The bill text is available here

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