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Congressman Anthony Brown Co-Sponsors Legislation to Address Medical Supply Shortages

Legislation would force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act to Address Need

Washington, March 25, 2020
“Maryland and other states need more aid. First responders and frontline health care workers are facing an unprecedented challenge that will require unprecedented action from the federal government,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “We need more masks, ventilators and other critical medical equipment. With lives at stake, this can’t be limited action. Simply put, this can’t wait.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) joined Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) as an original cosponsor of the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, legislation to force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 and federalize the manufacturing and distribution of scarce in-demand medical supplies in order to cure the growing inefficiencies of 50 states and thousands of hospitals competing against each other for medical supplies. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) have introduced this legislation in the Senate.

The Trump administration has told the American people on several occasions that the administration has already begun this process but there has been no meaningful action taken—leaving hospital and health care workers on the front lines without the proper gear, and fighting against each other in a bidding war for supplies.

“Maryland and other states need more aid. First responders and frontline health care workers are facing an unprecedented challenge that will require unprecedented action from the federal government,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “We need more masks, ventilators and other critical medical equipment. With lives at stake, this can’t be limited action. Simply put, this can’t wait.”

On Monday, March 23, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the Baltimore Convention Center as an Alternate Care site at Baltimore Convention Center and Hilton Hotel. 250 beds and 50 bed packages were requested to support the initiative. Maryland continues to take action to expand hospital capacity to address the coronavirus outbreak, reopening Laurel Hospital, which will make another 135 beds available. Still, resources remain scarce.

“Our first responders and heath care workers are putting their lives on the line to protect our communities. We need to do our part and get them the supplies they need to do their jobs and keep themselves and their patients safe. We are already seeing shortages of vital medical supplies in communities across the country, which will only grow the longer we wait. This legislation will immediately increase production of vital resources like masks, gloves, surgical gowns, and ventilators. We need to act now,” said Congressman Tim Ryan.

“The most urgent task for the federal government is to accelerate the flow of vital supplies to our front-line medical providers,” said Congressman Elissa Slotkin. “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 current system, in which states and hospitals are competing against each other for scarce equipment, is both unnecessary and barbaric. Enough is enough. It’s time to centralize the critical medical supply chain and distribution during this public health crisis,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “The Defense Production Act allows the president to require U.S. manufacturers to pivot production towards medical equipment, and our legislation requires him to actually do this and then take the additional step to direct the distribution of the gear, so that it ends up in the places of true need.”

“Our health care workers need help now. Our bill will immediately ramp up production of medical supplies, including masks, gloves, and ventilators so that our health care workers have the equipment they need to protect and care for themselves and their patients,” said Senator Brian Schatz.

The Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which has been endorsed by the AFSCME, would require the president to use authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to require emergency production of medical equipment to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the bill would force President Trump to identify private sector capacity to help provide nothing less than 500,000,000 N95 respirators; 200,000 medical ventilators; 20,000,000 face shields; 500,000,000 pairs of gloves; and 20,000,000 surgical gowns in addition to other medical equipment deemed necessary. The legislation would further require the administration to direct the distribution of these supplies, to end the unnecessary competition between states and health care institutions for these increasingly scarce resources. The Defense Production Act of 1950 confers upon the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industries in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for national defense.

Other original Cosponsors of the bill include: Beyer (D-VA), Doyle (D-PA),Fudge (D-OH), Garcia (D-IL), Gallego (D-AZ), Himes (D-CT), Kaptur (D-OH), Khanna (D-CA), Kuster (D-NH), Lamb (D-PA), Lynch (D-MA), Luján (D-NM), Neguse (D-CO), Norton (D-DC), Malinowski (D-NJ), Payne (D-NJ), Phillips (D-MN), Pingree (D-ME), Pressley (D-MA), Rose (NY), Rush (IL), Ruppersberger (D-MD), Scanlon (D-PA), Schneider (D-IL), Scott (D-GA), Soto (FL), Trahan (D-MA), Torres (CA).

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