March 24, 2020

Hirono Joins Baldwin, Colleagues to Require Use of Defense Production Act for Medical Supplies, Personal Protective Equipment for Hospitals, Health Care Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) joined Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to introduce legislation that would expedite the full use of the Defense Production Act to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would require President Trump to immediately begin a series of measures to secure urgently needed medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers.

“The country cannot take any more dithering from the President about what he will or will not do. It’s time for Congress to act by passing this legislation to provide the full power of the Defense Production Act to ensure that our first responders and health care workers have the equipment they need to keep themselves safe and treat those affected,” Senator Hirono said.

The legislation will:

-       Purchase 300 million N95 masks, approving the increased industry production of these masks and other PPE needs.

-       Initiate a national assessment from the National Response Coordination Center on the current medical supply shortages. That review will initiate a major purchase to fill gaps in medical supplies.

-       Disregard current restrictions in the DPA, including a dollar limit for orders and a 30-day waiting period for orders over $50 million.

-       Authorize additional funding for DPA accounts that could receive additional funds in COVID-19-related spending bills.

In addition to Senators Baldwin and Hirono, the legislation is cosponsored by Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calf.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 

The bill text is available here.