U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), along with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and U.S. Rep. John Katko of New York, announced on March 24, 2020, the bipartisan Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, legislation to require the Trump Administration to implement the Defense Production Act (DPA) and speed the production and distribution of vital medical supplies to front-line medical providers fighting the COVID-19 crisis.
“The most urgent task for the federal government is to accelerate the flow of vital supplies to our front-line medical providers,” Slotkin said. “I would not ordinarily advocate for legislation telling the executive branch how to manage a crisis, but I cannot ignore the outcry from my district and my state. We need federal action now, and if the President will not use his authorities, I will do everything I can to push him to act.”
The Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act would require the president to use the powers of the Defense Production Act to produce millions of masks, gloves, gowns, face shields and other supplies and equipment. The Defense Production Act allows the President to speed the production of items needed for national security by requiring industry to prioritize government orders and providing incentives to encourage private industry to produce those items. President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act but so far has not taken action to use its authorities.
This bill specifically compels the president to identify private sector capacity to produce nothing less than 500 million N95 respirators, 200,000 medical ventilators, 20 million face shields, 500 million pairs of gloves, 20 million surgical gowns, and any other medical material deemed necessary for medical care personnel to do their jobs. The legislation would further require the administration to direct the distribution of these supplies, ending the unnecessary competition between states and health care institutions for these increasingly scarce resources.
Slotkin on Sunday released a video asking 8th District residents to donate gloves, gowns and other vital supplies to the district’s hospitals. She has fielded daily calls from hospitals, medical providers and first responders, all of which are making increasingly urgent requests for supplies and equipment as Michigan ranks in the Top 5 U.S. states for confirmed COVID-19 cases.
She has been in close contact not only with hospital officials, medical providers and first responders, but with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has established a team that is scouring all available sources of equipment and supplies. Whitmer and other governors have called for federal assistance in acquiring supplies and mitigating the bidding war among states and individual hospitals for supplies.