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Larson, Courtney to Introduce the Pandemic Essential Supplies Act

May 29, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. John B. Larson (CT-01) and Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced they will be introducing the Pandemic Essential Supplies Act. The Act will instruct the Defense Logistics Agency to lead the federal management, procurement and distribution of emergency supplies that are critical for our nation’s COVID-19 response.

“The federal government has mostly left states on their own. Since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, FEMA and HHS fell short with the distribution of limited emergency supplies needed for the rapidly spreading virus. This happened in Connecticut, when our hospitals were left out of the initial distribution of the first FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19, Remdesivir. When the hospitals did receive the drug, the quantities were insufficient to treat all of the critically ill patients in desperate need. The COVID-19 pandemic is not going away anytime soon. The federal government needs to step up and lead our country’s response.

“After speaking with multiple experts, we propose utilizing the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to take charge of the national supply chain for essential medical goods needed to execute this plan. The DLA is the Department of Defense’s logistics support agency whose mission is the acquisition, storage, and distribution of materials for our military across the nation and around the globe.  Through the DLA we can secure a national supply chain and ensure we have the resources needed to defeat this pandemic.

“The DLA has the unique capability to manage the supply chain that few other organizations, public or private, can match. It is absolutely critical that we increase the DLA’s ability to assist states, local governments, hospitals and health care providers around the country with supplies so they are not needlessly competing against one another. We must also increase the usage of the Defense Production Act in conjunction with this proposal to ensure critical supplies are being manufactured in the quantities we need. The key to addressing this pandemic is securing our supply chain to ensure we have the resources we need. It’s time to set forth a nationally-directed science-based plan to better address this pandemic,” said Larson.

“The Defense Department's distribution, disposition, and supply chain operations are second-to-none,” said Courtney. “Given the Defense Logistic Agency's leading role in the federal government’s response efforts, this bill will ensure our nation's medical supply chain is operating efficiently and effectively without unintended obstacles from other federal government agencies.

“Whether it be in the civilian realm or the military sphere, an efficient supply chain is absolutely critical to executing successful missions. This effort will work toward ensuring needed medical supplies get not only to citizens across Connecticut, but to all Americans. As the nation continues to grapple with the next phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we utilize all the tools at our disposal to respond.”

Background:

The Defense Logistics Agency was tasked by the Defense Department’s Joint COVID-19 Task Force to support FEMA and HHS efforts and, as of April 30th, DLA has so far procured over $920 million in lifesaving N95 masks, ventilators, and other lifesaving supplies. Unfortunately, states and local governments currently have to request supplies through FEMA and HHS leaving many states to fend for themselves.

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