The House Oversight and Reform Committee passed unanimously the Made in America Pandemic Preparedness Act in another sign to both houses of Congress that there is massive bipartisan support for Buy America rules targeting key and critical supply chains.
There has been numerous bills of this nature to date, but none have yet made it to the president’s desk. Congress needs to move quickly on this endeavor before the pandemic is behind us and supply chain risks are no longer top of mind.
Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) sponsored the Act which 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.
The bill requires that PPE procured by the government for the Strategic National Stockpile all be made in the U.S. It also calls for a tax credit for manufacturers to help cover the costs of building out these supply chains for many years to come, including manufacturing technology upgrades and workforce training.
“We must reinvest in U.S. businesses that got us through the pandemic,” Rep. Maloney said. “We must increase domestic production. China dominates the market and the U.S. must take action to develop our own PPE production,” she said, in summation.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA-10) said there was a sufficient supply of most PPE at the moment, but that the U.S. needed to be prepared for what comes next.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY-1), the ranking member on the Committee who was combative most of the day for other bills in question, but was on the same page with his Democratic Party colleagues on this one. He supports the legislation and said the U.S. “must hold China accountable” for the pandemic. He said local manufacturers in Kentucky were also part of the domestic PPE supply chain push last year.
Over the last few months, lower-cost items like face masks, and cotton face masks with designs on them from China, have flooded the market. Fake N95 masks, which are reusable, have also been a problem. Most of them are coming from China. All of this creates headwinds for American manufacturers, forced to compete with heavily subsidized Chinese products, hoarding that creates scarcity followed by massive dumping which creates oversupply and hurts local investment, and fake goods. With that in mind, Congress needs to act fast to protect this industry and make sure that the country is no longer reliant on a single source for PPE. CPA advocates for long-term government contracts with strict Buy American rules that do not include some 40 WTO member states that are party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), all currently permitted to bid on those contracts as if they were a manufacturer in Kentucky.
Made in America Pandemic Preparedness only works if Buy American rules are able to abandon the GPA for government contracts.