Cantwell, Colleagues Support Biden Administration Plan to Utilize Defense Production Act, Increase Production of Medical Equipment and Supplies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and 23 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President-elect Joe Biden supporting his incoming administration’s plan to quickly utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to rapidly increase the production and stockpiling of medical, testing, and protective equipment supplies.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cantwell has joined her colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus in calling on the Trump administration to fully utilize the DPA—which it has not done—to ramp up nationwide production of testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical equipment. In their letter to President-elect Biden, the senators noted their support for the Biden administration’s intended use of executive actions to utilize all authorities under the DPA and deploy a more functional response to the pandemic.

“Given the continued supply chain issues that we have seen over the past year, we believe it is in the best interest of the American public to shore up our access to critical supplies immediately and in the long term through all available DPA authorities,” the senators wrote. “The DPA can help us reach our goal of vaccinating enough of the American public to achieve herd immunity by ramping up production of sterile needles, rubber stoppers, syringes and other vaccine supplies now … we need to use every tool available to make up the ground we have lost. The DPA could also be used to regulate vaccine distribution, ensure that companies do not charge for the vaccine in the future and enhance production of materials needed for vaccines to address future pandemics.”

The senators noted how American manufacturers and workers have stepped up to increase domestic manufacturing of PPE throughout the pandemic and said the DPA must also be used to ensure that these manufacturers have greater access to affordable, domestically-sourced raw materials.

“Make no mistake, a dependable and resilient domestic manufacturing capacity to respond to a global pandemic is a national security imperative,”the senators concluded.“Given the opaque nature of the transition and the lack of transparency from the current administration, we understand that your team may not yet have full insight into the state of the medical supply pipeline and Strategic National Stockpile. We stand ready to partner with you to help overcome these substantial obstacles. Your use of executive action to utilize the extraordinary authorities under DPA will support a more functional response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that America is stronger now and more resilient when the next pandemic occurs.”

In addition to Senators Cantwell, Baldwin, and Murphy, the letter was also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The full text of the letter is available HERE.