House approves legislation to improve, replenish Strategic National Stockpile in preparation for future crises
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to advance legislation – led by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) – to improve the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile to ensure it’s ready to respond to future public health emergencies.
The bipartisan legislation comes after states across the country struggled to secure the critical medical supplies they needed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to ensuring the nation’s strategic stockpile has the items and equipment needed to respond to future crises, the legislation would also create a new pilot program to boost domestic manufacturing of some of the most critical supplies – such as personal protective equipment, or PPE, used to protect frontline health care workers – to reduce America’s dependence on foreign manufacturers for those items.
“There’s no way to predict when a global health crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, is going to occur,” DeGette said. “That’s why it’s vital that we remain vigilant and ready at all times. The time to prepare for the next public health crisis is now and this legislation will ensure our strategic national stockpile has the resources we need to respond effectively and efficiently to such emergencies when they arise.”
The Strategic National Stockpile is a repository of critical supplies and medicines maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that states, territories, tribal nations and major metropolitan areas can access during a public health emergency.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the national stockpile was unable to fulfill several urgent requests by states for critical medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment and ventilators, because the stockpile either didn’t have the supplies on hand, or the items they had were expired or outdated.
If enacted, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, which the House approved today by a vote of 397 – 22, would:
- Require regular maintenance of the Strategic National Stockpile to ensure all items are in good working order and ready for use. The legislation will require regular inspections of the national stockpile to ensure all items and supplies being held are not outdated or expired.
- Increase domestic manufacturing of critical supplies. The legislation will establish a $500 million pilot program to increase domestic manufacturing of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of such supplies going forward.
- Increase transparency of stockpile allocations. The legislation will require HHS to develop a more transparent process for distributing goods from the stockpile in future emergencies and provide states with clearer guidelines on how to request supplies and equipment they need during a crisis.
- Help states create, maintain their own stockpiles. The legislation will establish a pilot program to help states create, expand and maintain their own strategic stockpiles to be used during future crises.
- Increase overall funding to replenish the stockpile. The legislation will increase annual funding for the Strategic National Stockpile from $610 million per year to $705 million per year for the next three years.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
A copy of the bill is available here.