WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation Wednesday, the Protecting American Heroes Act, to help increase the U.S. stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) and allow for a quick ramp up of American production of PPE in any future emergency.
Brown’s bill focuses on strengthening the Strategic National Stockpile, a national stockpile of critical emergency medical supplies like PPE.
“We know our workers and our factories have the ability to scale up production of PPE and necessary medical supplies, they just need the support to do so,” said Brown. “That’s why I’m introducing the Protecting American Heroes Act. My bill will increase U.S. production of PPE and other critical items in the Strategic National Stockpile. It will make sure we are better prepared for a pandemic and better able to quickly increase American production of the supplies we need in an emergency.”
Brown’s bill would:
- Ensure the Strategic National Stockpile can respond to a public health emergency that affects all 50 states at once.
- Require all supplies in the stockpile to be produced in the U.S. with certain exceptions based on availability and require domestic producers who manufacture supplies to give advance notice before they go out of business;
- Create a position of Executive Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Strategic National Stockpile to put stockpile decisions in the hands of a high-level, qualified career professional and increase congressional awareness of SNS supply chains through enhanced, regular reporting requirements; and
- Make funding for the Strategic National Stockpile mandatory and extend DPA authority to the HHS Secretary during a public health emergency.
On a conference call Wednesday, Brown was joined by Kim Glas, President and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations, to express support for Brown’s bill and discuss why the plan is important to U.S. textile manufacturers as they work to ramp up production of PPE and other medical supplies.
“Senator Brown has been a tireless advocate for American workers and manufacturers and we can’t thank him enough for his leadership. This important legislation will enhance our Strategic National Stockpile and onshore domestic production. We need to be prepared – this bill helps us do just that. There are several key provisions of this bill that will safeguard not only our public health but our national security. These items include ensuring domestic manufacturers produce critically needed items for the Strategic National Stockpile. It’s imperative for our nation’s infrastructure and for our own health and safety that we have the ability to produce these items here at home. Too many frontline workers are still seeking PPE in short supply. This should never happen again. We need to be prepared so that it never does,” said Glas.
Brown’s bill was also endorsed by Greg Burel, the former Director of the Strategic National Stockpile.
“The SNS is a key asset protecting national health security. It is imperative that it be capable of responding to all hazards that may threaten the United States. I believe this proposed legislation will position SNS for the future we face as a nation,” said Burel.
Brown has led efforts to ensure Ohioans have the PPE they need and that Ohio businesses can ramp up production of these necessary medical supplies quickly.
In March, Brown wrote to President Trump outlining several steps the Administration should take immediately to address the shortage and ramp up manufacturing of these critical medical supplies. In his plan and in his letter to the President, Brown urged the Administration to immediately take nine specific steps to ramp up production of PPE.
Brown has also criticized President Donald Trump’s partial invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA), which ignored other key titles in the Act that provide essential tools for rapidly scaling up our national response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Brown has called on Trump to immediately implement all Defense Production Act powers under Titles I, III, and VII as necessary to massively scale up production of testing kits, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as respirators and gloves, ventilators, and other critical materials that our country needs during the coronavirus emergency.