(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Representatives Jason Crow (CO-06) and Katie Porter (CA-45) and 20 colleagues in introducing The Frontline Health Care Workers Assistance Act. The Frontline Health Care Workers Assistance Act would require President Trump to use the powers of the Defense Production Act 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 Crow-Porter version would require 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.
Originally enacted in 1950 after the Korean War left the U.S. in need of wartime supplies, the Defense Production Act (DPA) provides the president with a broad set of authorities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 President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on March 18, 2020, he has yet to implement it.
“Healthcare workers in the Massachusetts 7th and around the country are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re counting on us to ensure they have the supplies they need to protect themselves and our communities,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “I’m proud to sponsor the Frontline Health Care Workers Assistance Act because the clock is ticking, and lives depend on the federal government taking swift action that matches the urgency of this crisis.”
“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 Baldwin’s effort (S.3570) in the Senate 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.
The bill is also sponsored by Representatives 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), Joe Neguse (CO-02), John Larson (CT-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Lois Frankel (FL-21), James McGovern (MA-02), 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).
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