CPA sent the following letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) regarding the Office of the Attending Physician’s distribution of KN95 masks made in China to lawmakers. CPA urged House leadership to immediately stop all purchase and procurement of Chinese personal protective equipment (PPE) and instead source from American manufacturers. In the letter, CPA cites a number of U.S. companies producing N95 masks and other PPE.
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:
We are disappointed that the House of Representatives Office of the Attending Physician is distributing KN95 masks made in China to lawmakers. Using American taxpayer dollars to purchase Chinese personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to supply Members of Congress is an affront not only to the American people, but also to the American companies and workers that produce these critical health care products here in the U.S.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, headline after headline about poorly made and defective imported Chinese PPE dominated the news. Americans saw firsthand the repercussions of our nation’s dependence on foreign countries for critical goods as a result of decades of offshoring our U.S. productive capacity. Shortages of lifesaving medicines, PPE, and basic goods like household cleaning supplies impacted communities across the nation. Masks were just one critical good that were affected by shortage.
Thankfully, Congress recognized that dependence on foreign manufacturers for critical goods like masks and other PPE is a serious economic and national security risk to our nation. As a result, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began efforts to onshore domestic production of PPE and support American-made products, which would strengthen the resilience of this critical supply chain.
Last July, the House Oversight and Reform Committee unanimously passed the Made in America Pandemic Preparedness Act, another sign that there is massive bipartisan support for Buy America rules targeting key and critical supply chains. The bill incentivizes the development of domestic supply chains in N95 masks and other personal protection equipment, such as hospital gowns and face shields, items that were short in supply at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. It also requires that PPE procured by the government for the SNS be made in the U.S. and it provides a tax credit for domestic manufacturers to help cover the costs making the long-term investment to build out these supply chains, including manufacturing technology upgrades and workforce training.
In the most recent National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 117-181), Congress prohibited the Department of Defense from procuring PPE from China and other foreign adversaries. Additionally, just last week the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, who oversees the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), reported that the SNS has 737 million N95s and that the federal government would be awarding a $140 million contract to manufacture N95s.
Last year, the Senate passed the the Make PPE in America Act (S. 1306), bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) that will strengthen efforts to onshore production of PPE in the United States by requiring federal agencies to issue long-term contracts for American-made PPE. The bill was included as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260) that passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 32. As you know, the House is considering its own legislation to address competitiveness with China.
Right now, there are American companies that employ American workers that are manufacturing N95 masks and other critical health care products like PPE. These companies include Advanced Concept Innovations, the second-largest producer of N95 masks in the U.S., which is currently producing up to 2 million N95s a day. Prestige Ameritech, another U.S. company manufacturing, has the capability to make roughly 7 million N95 masks per month. Incredibly, the federal government turned down the company’s offer at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 to ramp up production to make an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week in 2020.
Armbrust is another American manufacturer producing N95 masks and has “a mission to bring back strategic manufacturing to the USA.” Indiana Face Mask, Aegle, Demetech Corporation, Gerson, Protective Health Gear, and Shawmut Corporation are also manufacturing N95 masks right here in America.
Clearly, there are many options to source American-made PPE. Accordingly, we strongly urge the House of Representatives to immediately stop all purchase and procurement of Chinese PPE, including Chinese KN95 masks. Congress should not be supporting, either wittingly or unwittingly, Chinese manufacturers over American companies and workers — especially with taxpayer dollars. Going forward, we request that all masks and other PPE procured by the House and distributed to Members of Congress should be made in America and by American workers.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.
Zach Mottl, Chairman Michael Stumo, CEO
Coalition for a Prosperous America Coalition for a Prosperous America